© Photos by Bernie Ng, Courtesy of T.H.E Dance Company.
Asian Festivals Exchange is the second platform of M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival, launching collaborations across the region with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary performances.
In The Distance by Sarah Foster-Sproull conquers the evening with alien-like dazzling choreography suggesting a macabre checkers game played by the dancers, poised with female power.
The movement in this piece is rich in imagery; Sarah Foster-Sproull brings to the foreground memorable and unique sequences of dance.
Looking like a giant jellyfish with thousands of tentacles reaching for dance; the former are hands and arms from a talented cast exploring a surrealistic vision, juxtaposed against fast paced unison that dissipates into smaller quartets, trios and solos. Activating the dancer’s immediate space into a large ensemble composition, triggering the magical potential of choreography.
In the Distance puts centre stage a goddess figure, disrupting the group energy, pulling and pushing one and all to new systems of organisation and hierarchy. A confrontation with the alpha-male brings the choreography forward to a fight of desire and nerve amidst super fast and athletic partner-work. In this instance, the dancers partner one another as if sourcing for a state of plenitude in mutual engagement.
Comedy vanishes in the illusion of dance, 82 vs 65 by Jackie Ong, Choi Minsun and Kang Jinan wants to manage the cultural differences between Singapore and South Korea. However, the movement is sparse, set against a video projection reflecting dance from within the cosy studio space in Singapore, as well as dance materials from South Korea.
The composition of this piece suggests a duo versus a solo where dance is short lived, opening the scene for pedestrian actions like emptying one’s pockets and chewing-gum; these elements don’t seem to mingle on stage but remain clearly divided side by side.
The body dancing, versus two people explaining and playing with surgical tape: Here, the cast returns to the same departure point, a linear formation across the stage to present new ideas, new culture clashes and creative initiatives defeated by self-explanatory actions of everyday dance.
The ensemble comes together at the end to explore a fast forward version of pedestrian movement and gestural material, letting the audience dive into the work to shut it down immediately with the end. Are we staging experiments for the sake of the experiment?
Asian Festivals Exchange closes with Obscurity of Self by Zhuo Zhiao and Miwa Okuno.
There is chatter in the audience; two ladies chat away in French as if nothing is happening on stage, but Obscurity of Self seems to have already started, the cast carefully spreads soil on stage to write the word SELF.
We are invited to think of ourselves, perhaps our social self, the personal or even the professional self.
Self, suggests a myriad of options when it comes to reflection, but this piece seems to be offering us one point of view via two mediums. A video projection as a backdrop for a live dance performance.
The ensemble of dancers empties soil from their costumes into the stage, creating a mess, while the video projection shows submerged body parts slowly rising from underground. There is a collective sense of research in the air, but less so in the bodies, as these move very indistinctively leaving no resolution for this exploration of video and dance.
Asian Festivals Exchange with M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival 6th and 7th of December at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.