An evening of eclectic and confessional works, SEA choreographers showcase is fully charged with drama and audience participation as well as debate. Daniel K proposes an enquiry on democracy and the European project, whereas Andara Moeis presents process on stage through the Keeersmaerer’s choreographic tools 9Star ki/magic square. The evening ends with a transformational performance on endurance from Moh Hariyanto.
Cheerleader of Europe by Daniel K is an electrifying dance performance, part confessional and intimate Daniel K opens the debate on stage into democracy, underlying an inevitable comparison to the authoritarian political landscape of Singapore.
The piece starts with Daniel’s confessions and stories whilst he was a soldier training for National Service in Singapore, and accidentally losing a colleague from his platoon to a bullet during a training session. The scene is set from the start on a football like pitch on stage, as with previous works Daniel K keeps the house lights on from the beginning to the end of the performance breaking the 4th wall and inviting the audience to dive into the performance, even to take part.
Initially, he displays flags of the European countries and boxes them under ‘crisis’ or ‘austerity’. The Singaporean flag in carefully placed first on stage and it sits between the area designated for the audience and the mid court area where Germany, France and the United Kingdom sit as leaders and responsible parties for the austerity policies implemented during the Euro crisis.
Portugal, Spain, and Greece are further away, right at the other end of the pitch in the crisis-designated area. Daniel’s performance is a part interview or even debate since he invites a European audience member on stage to discuss the European project and reflect on what it means to be European.
We are guided through the entire dance piece with concrete verbal information on what is happening. The piece includes hilarious movement phrases that are camp, happy and very cheerleader like. The latter repeats to different music even silence throughout the entire piece. Daniel’s sense of humor is unerring. The piece fundamentally discusses democracy as we know it in Europe, the conflicts of opinion across different countries, the right wing rise in France and Scandinavia, the imminent changes on the geopolitical landscape of Europe, the refugee crises in Italy and Greece, the bailout package fund for Portugal, Ireland and Greece, the possible exit of Britain from the E.U. and finally terrorism, fundamentally Daniel highlights what constitutes freedom of speech and democracy drawing an antithesis to Singapore.
Cheerleader of Europe is a super intelligent dance work; Daniel manages to manipulate the audience from the very beginning, finishing with a positive response maneuvering the audience to a climax – he unfolds cardboard signs asking the audience to applause, which everyone does, and to applause even louder, lasting for a very long time. The audience comes together in a cheer-like mood, everyone seems happy at the end and Daniel conquers the masses navigating between aggressive European politics, neutral Asian political statements, and sensual dance moves; sometimes camp, he makes us laugh, other times perseverant, embracing all the countries that constitute the European project reminds us of the constant struggle and hardship of democracy across different nations.
UNTITLED (2015) by Andara Moeis is the second piece of the evening. This work is sandwiched between two fully charged and sometimes overdramatic dance works and as a result, it feels out of place in this evening’s program.
The dance performance starts in silence with the dancers setting up the scene for a dance piece that as a central enquiry – ‘can we listen to movements’ this task is explored through the dancers via unison phrases that map out different pathways on stage. This grows into each other’s territory crossing over the dance material. The idea of time is present in the entire piece, represented by two circles that cross over as well as in the soundscape of a constant beep. The idea is simplistic and the relationship between the dancers is a movement alliance, there are very little sensorial interchanges between the duo. This piece of work feels very distant from the audience, even cold at times.
GHULUR by Moh Hariyanto is a challenge on endurance, fitness and sorrow swaddled in violent and aggressive movement material – defying and stretching limitations of the human body.
At the outset, Hariyanto lies quietly on top of a roll of corrugated PVC, with a soft light revealing his serene breathing state of calm, like a magical poignant sky before a sea storm.
Hariyanto unravels the roll of PVC abruptly on the floor causing a huge noise and setting up its physical limitations for a performance that follows, loaded with complex fast jumps, off balances that finish in violent rolls on the square PVC suggesting a struggle. It is quite amazing to see what he is able to do with his body, the dance material is highly challenging and makes us feel uncomfortable because it demands the impossible from the human body. Hariyanto endures a solo of struggle and difficulty, underlying this level of fitness and athletic dance material there are sorrow and hope. This brilliant solo work finishes with the dancer finding refuge in the comfort of the roll of PVC, bringing again a state of calm and introspection to himself and the audience.