I am going to slightly depart from the usual format of a review to pose some questions. As a theatre writer, I look forward to good performances in terms of technical dexterity and strong concepts; however, most of the time, artists are recycling old concepts with new vocabularies. Conventional wisdom tells us that nothing is new and creative anymore. Lecturers of ideation have told us all – We are merely recreating from existing ingredients to create the new. The spirit of innovation and invention is waning. The same argument could be used in the performing arts. A case in point – The three performances in Programme B, the D’Motion International Dance Festival, co-presented by T.H.E. Dance Company (Singapore) and the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) held on Friday (18 December 2015).
Singapore dance company T.H.E. Dance Company premiered three of their pieces in Malaysia over the weekend. They are a part of the international dance festival presented by them and the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC). Three pieces of work are Pellucid (Choreographer: Kuik Swee Boon), Dos Cuerpos (Choreographer: Iratxe Ansa) and The Highest Animal (Choreographer: Jacko Siompo). Having watched many performances, there are some that baffle me, not because they were difficult to watch, but they don’t seem to engage the audience, not to me at least. Engagement comes in different forms. Some dance performances prefer to showcase their technical prowess, while some prefer to articulate their philosophies. There are others who simply want to dance. Dance in itself cannot be separated from culture. Every choreographer and dancer has his/her personal culture. The body is a container of culture, and within it culture is being reinforced by cultural habits.
Dance performances communicate to us in a slightly different way, as compared to text-based performances, where the meaning contained within them would guide us to what to think and something to work on. Dance allows us to construct our own images through choreographer’s images on stage. At another level, bodies also tell us how they function and live. Most of us don’t even know how our body functions, physically and spiritually. Damansara Performing Arts Centre’s (DPAC) annual dance festival offering D’Motion aims to present dances that have new vocabularies that will allow us to know the world better. To dancers and budding choreographers, it is also a platform to discover new possibilities for their bodies and choreographies. DPAC 2016’s offering is impressive featuring works of Kim Dong-Kyu (Korea), Iratxe Ansa (Spain), Naoto Katori and Ikumi Kurosu (Japan) and Liu Yen-Cheng (Taiwan).
I came across a Facebook post that argues for the non-politicisation of grief, in the aftermath of the Paris attack early Malaysian time yesterday. Many people accused the over-privileging of the Paris attack over many others in many other countries. In theatre, we do the same too. We privilege some performances over another, some performers over others, some companies over others – We are biased, for in one way or another, we are “affiliated” to one or more performances, performers, companies, their aesthetics. Shantini Venugopal’s concert-cum-monologue Look at Me has a very personal (or some might say self-indulgent) title. It is the truth. Literally, audiences go and “look” at Shantini Venugopal in the performance space Tocatta Studio, located in SS2.