A contemporary dance mélange of choreography, showcasing ten distinct dance works from Singaporean dance companies with a focus on local choreographers. Divercity strives to display a cross-section of our rich dance community. Divercity delivers an array of bold and original ideas on contemporary dance practice, choreography, staging, audience involvement and perception of dance, performance, and overall cross-collaborative creative processes.
The program was unique for each of the two evenings. We are invited to witness excerpts of full-length dance works, the highlight for me was the presentation of audacious dance pieces including The Conference by Sharin Johry, As It Fades by T.H.E. Dance Company and Planet Romeo by Daniel K.
Divercity also included: You Cannot Turn away by Chowk, accompanied by poetry written after the Sri Lankan civil war – in this particular piece the message of longing one’s land is evident and imaginative through the poetry, although it falls short to grow in the choreography. The slow paced quartet moves across the stage in a daunting manner and the live music underlines the entire choreography, exploring a limited array of dance material.
The Conference by Shahrin Johry achieves individuality, presence, and complexity of a quartet performed by 4 dancers where the movement material ranges from elongated and calculated movements from Xiao Xing to the personal mannerisms of Bernice Lee. Fundamentally the piece speaks of idiosyncrasy and freedom of speech – a refreshing take on music in the first evening’s program as the latter is an integral part of the choreography, it seems as though they were born together, and neither is present solely to support or underscore the other.
The Conference is a peculiar dance piece, one cannot help but thinking about freedom of speech especially in the social context of Singapore. A clever and jocular dance piece.
Check, mate! By Soul signature, stands out for its movement research, an in-depth inquiry of two bodies functioning versus fighting – the dance material combines fluidity within one’s body in a manner to interrupt the other’s movement phrase, progression feels at times oppressed but this is a deliberate choreographic decision that enhances the concept of a fight.
As is Fades by T.H.E. Dance Company is most definitely the highlight of the first evening. Kuik Swee Boon is resourceful and exceptional in working under a theme so familiar to the arts community in Singapore ‘a homage to Asian traditions and their fading presence in our lives’. More often than not we are confronted with works that reflect Singapore as a society, as Home; western values versus eastern practices, eastern dance influences into contemporary dance choreography – the subjects swing under the same umbrella of east versus west and periodically I reflect if there is a duty or even a commitment to the cause?
Swee Boon presents an exclusive take on the subject – from the very beginning you are welcome into a macrocosm replenished with sorrow, melancholy, and anxiety. As It Fades is an emotionally charged dance piece, a discourse between resent and hope, portrayed by the entire cast. Swee Boon manifesto is present in everyone’s mind, the dancers as much as the audience. The complexity of the choreography allows the dancers to appear and dissipate amid their group unisons, migrating from a solo voyage toward peace, contentment, and reason.
Planet Romeo by Daniel K can be seen as the wild card of the season, however, in my opinion, Planet Romeo is the single performance that unifies the audience with the stage and was most certainly the main feature of the second evening.
From the start of the performance, we are invited to read a booklet and to seriously understand Daniel’s research and creative process from Planet Romeo. Daniel K went on 40 dates in 60 days through an online dating site, from the start the audience can understand and recognized the terrain of this performance, even identify themselves in the situation.
The audience’s involvement with the performer and the performance is deep and long lasting. Daniel provides a timeline of the actions for the evening’s performance; he helps us to identify different states of mind. We are guided throughout the performance from the beginning and taught how to read his choreography and immediately one feels part of this extravagant dating research. To some, this could be a shocking or even provoking performance, however, I believe Daniel achieved what so many choreographers are looking for – a direct connection and emotional response from each audience member. The performance is subjective on its content but very concrete in its delivery. I am curious to learn more from Planet Romeo.
White Noise by Stephanie Lake; Frontier Danceland, is a complex piece of choreography; it requires concentration into the work, however, the choreography feels distant from the audience.
We are invited to witness a mechanism and sequence of actions created amongst a group of dancers that disjoint movement from the beginning. At the outset of the piece, the sound doesn’t seem to complement the dance, it doesn’t juxtapose the movement vocabulary, it is almost independent of the choreographic work. It isn’t until the second half of the performance that both cast and audience come to peace – with both attributes of the performance.
Working through floor patterns the dancers contaminate the stage with abstract movement ideas, the piece is ambitious, difficult to read and sometimes the cast strike one as being more gratified with specific aspects of the dance material; such as solo work rather than the core of the choreography.
The piece is complex but resolves itself beautifully when the entire ensemble come together suspending a reflective moment and dissipating in the mist, the audience though is left in limbo – an imbued and startling emotional state.
DiverCity looks into the future of contemporary dance, sharing emotionally charged choreography, guiding audiences through different states of mind. Reflection on the social and personal self is the quintessential curatorial venture of these choreographers and dance artists.