Let's look at the Festival Guide! #6: DANCE MARATHON EDITION CONT'D!

Ng Yi-Sheng

August 31, 2015

This is gonna be the absolute last of my snarky Festival Guide forecasts! Check out previous editions here, and judge how well I've predicted the watchability of our shows:

Let's Look at the Festival Guide #1

Let's Look at the Festival Guide #2

Let's Look at the Festival Guide #3

Let's Look at the Festival Guide #4

Let's Look at the Festival Guide #5: DANCE MARATHON EDITION

The Projectionist
Margie Medlin

31 August, 7-10pm
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

I could say all kinds of sardonic things about this piece - such as why on earth did we invite an Australian new media artist to create work during the Dance Marathon rather than, I dunno, a single Singaporean choreographer. But the standard of Dance Marathon works has been so consistently high that I'm pretty sure this'll be good.

Also, Medlin is lined to choreographer - she's the Director of Critical Path, "a choreographic research centre in Sydney" - and she's connected to South Asia through her mentorship work with the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore. So she does fit thematically with this whole Japan/South Asia focus we have in the metafestival. More on what her show's actually like in due course.

Eyes Open. Eyes Closed. (a.k.a. Traitriot) / Venuri Perera
My Mothers and I / Chey Chankethya

1 Sep, 8pm
SOTA Studio Theatre

I'm looking forward to this based on more than pure faith. You see, I've met both these young choreographers before through the Flying Circus Project, and they kick booty.

Perera's from Sri Lanka, but I met her first in Myanmar in 2013. In her FCP talks, she explained the roots of her art form, Kandyan Dance, and how she's attempting to use it to speak about the violence of the Sri Lankan Civil War. I haven't kept up with her career since then (despite, no joke, bumping into her in Colombo by accident), but I'm eager to see what she's come up with.

Chey Chankethya I met in 2009, when we went to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia. As a part of Amrita Performing Arts, she'd helped to resuscitate Khmer dance (it had been almost wiped out by the Khmer Rouge), and was (together with other dancers) embarking on a quest to use it as a foundation for building a contemporary dance practice. I've seen her in shows in Singapore too: Khmerpedies II and Arco Renz's Crack. Bloody gorgeous and exciting - usually we see contemporary dance built on western foundations of ballet, but she and her comrades are building it up from a different, equally formal tradition, with all the energy of youth in the "developing" world behind them.

So yeah, I wanna be at this.

Future Memory
Rani Nair

2 Sep, 8pm

From here on I have much less of a vested interest because I straight up can't make it for these shows, and I don't know these folks. (Actually, come to think of it, I've run into Rani Nair a fair bit through the rest of the festival. Her hair's curly now.)

Future Memory is a work she's "inherited" - the programme says, 'German choreographer Kurt Jooss created his last piece, “Dixit Dominus”, in 1975 as a gift for Swedish-based Indian dancer Lilavati Häger, who in turn gave it to Rani Nair to reconstruct in 2003. Future Memory (2012) returns to “Dixit”, this time focusing not on the choreography, but on the stories around it.'

Sounds like it'll be a lecture performance more than a dance. Which is actually the kind of thing I like! Dance for folks like me, who can't tell a grand jeté from a twerk.


Light Doesn't Have Arms to Carry Us
Preethi Athreya

3 Sep, 8pm
SOTA Studio Theatre

This is yet another one of those pieces which does not lure us in with its description.

'At times a silent film, at times an intimate conversation, at times a scenographic installation, Light Doesn’t Have Arms To Carry Us proposes a way of interpreting music as something to be seen rather than heard... Based on the structure of the music and its composition, the objective is to arrive at a visual rhythm from an aural experience. “La Lumiere N’a Pas De Bras Pour Nous Porter” appears in discreet and explicit forms now and again to punctuate the tableau.'

Who's gonna be amped up to see this based on that writeup? Perhaps folks involved in bharatanatyam, since that's what she's originally trained in? Also (based on the photo), amputee fetishists?

The Daily Life of Ms. D / Chie Ito
Passage on Blur / Tsuyoshi Shirai

4 Sep, 8pm
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Alas, I won't be there for the closing of the metafestival - not for the Archive Box, either! - and this is especially a pity, since Muto Daisuke's talked about Chie Ito's influential group Kinoko, and how they're announced a "graduation from contemporary dance" in the wake of Fukushima. (Post-contemporary! That's a kind of Post-Empires, no?)

I'm really not sure what kind of show her piece is gonna be, mind you - the summary reads like the plot of a play, with the central character of the neurotic Ms. D, whose life is changed by the explosive package of dynamite she receives from the postman. If that was a movie, I'd watch it.

Muto also spoke about how Shirai, aka AbsT, pioneered a "choreography of listening to noises and feeling space". And Lord knows what that means, but given that there'll be live guitar music and the railway station is their stage, I'm imagining a sensual site-specific spectacle not unlike Yukio Suzuki Lay/ered. A little less noisy, though. Probs.

Lemme know how these turn out! I won't be there for over half of them!

  • 2015