M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival celebrates ten exciting years of contemporary dance in Singapore. Built initially as a one-week festival, it has established itself as an influential part of the annual dance calendar, stretching to a whopping six weeks in this year’s edition. The festival is well known for launching small to mid-scale dance performances, it has the spirit and character of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, albeit with much nicer weather.
This years edition looks back into its rich past performances and brings forward critical works from different seasons. I often describe contemporary dance as a huge umbrella under which collaborative art-forms and choreography sit interconnected in a complex web of artists, performers and thinkers. It encompasses the theatrical and the theoretical, as well as the best-known representation of choreography – abstract movement.
Festival director, Kuik Swee Boon writes on a press release of his ‘pursuit of boosting the contemporary dance scene and advocating for the openness that it embraces. Have we successfully made room for different perspectives to be seen, heard and valued?’. The line-up for this season is multifaceted with artists and companies visiting from all over the world. There is something for everyone across eight different platforms in the programme, and a generous amount of space for local artists. I look forward to engaging with new ways of seeing dance.
Highlights for this year
I look forward to seeing Adele Goh’s work on stage with DiverCity. I have followed her successful career for the last five years with Frontier Danceland, and I am always surprised by how she continually reinvents herself with utter determination, embodying ideas and movement from other choreographers with absolute perfection. With her chameleon-like approach to performance she can quickly look like an underground animal, a humanoid or float above the floor like a weightless feather. (3 July, 8 PM)
M1 Open Stage encompasses the spirit of a fringe festival to the fullest, presenting three distinct programs with four different pieces/artists each night. Pick your favourite or go to all. Choreographer and writer Bernice Lee has been working on Ghosting: Indelible in the Hippocampus for quite some time and I remember seeing the beginnings of this intensely personal performance a year ago – go watch. (20 July, 3 PM). I am curious about Hemabharathy Palani in Trikonanga, and Ignoramus by Kim Hoyeon and Lim Jungha with rising-star Hwa Wei-An. (20 July 8 pm).
Off Stage unleashes new names in the dance arena, it’s refreshing to see new faces making choreography. Michelle Lim, a graduate from The Juilliard School, presents H O M E S I C K and Syimah Sabtu presents Watch H A S E R. (16 July 8 PM)
Mr. Sign by Kim Jae Duk with T.H.E Dance Company returns to the festival. You have probably seen the company in previous editions, the dancers are always refreshing, fierce and determined. This time, taking the stage with a score arranged by Kim featuring a peculiar ensemble of influences from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Indonesian gamelan to traditional Korean trot music. (19 July, 8 PM)
M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival is packed with dance classes, workshops and intensives. Keep an eye out for Billy Keohavong’s class and contact improvisation with Shintaro Oue. Zunnur Zhafirah will be running a Hofesh Shechter Company Intensive for those who like to groove and move to distinct beats of Schechter’s own musical compositions and repertoire.
Full listings of the Festival can be found here.