T.H.E Dance Company presents
The Emerging Choreographers II
Asian Tangling on the Line:
T.H.E Emerging Choreographers II – Of cultural wars and balance.
by Richard Chua
16 March 2010
It seems that the notion of being Asian is a highly problematic label. For there isn’t one Asia, but many Asias. Unfortunately, in the western stereotypical gaze, there is one. For Asians living in this highly contentious continent called Asia, there are infinite forms of Asia. As many Asians are grappling with cultural preservation, not to mention getting involved in the politics of waging cultural hegemony on each other, how does Singapore stand in this sea of conflicts. Singapore dance company T.H.E. Dance Company, founded by Artistic Director Kuik Swee Boon, seems to be interested in finding an answer to this question.
T.H.E Dance Company felt that the dancers had began their careers in an interesting time. For the word “interesting” has been defined as increased cultural, social and economic momentum, a period where attention has been the cultural and artistic aspects of Asia, rather than the exotic. As much as this is going to be a challenging experience, it is timely for Singaporeans to understand what being Asian is about. Is it just a Confucian experience, or more?
Three young, locally based choreographers will take centre stage in T.H.E Emerging Choreographers II, the first performance of T.H.E Dance Company’s 2010 season. Foo Yun Ying, Lee Mun Wai (both members of T.H.E) and Lee Ren Xin (member of T.H.E Second Dance Company) will each present an approximately 20 minute work based on the above theme/question in the NUS Arts Festival 2010.
First, Choreographer Lee Ren Xin will investigate how much the female gender has progressed in Asian society. She felt much has changed for females and the future points towards increased independence and empowerment, but perhaps changing deep-rooted cultural conventions are harder than expected?
In her words, “As an Asian female, I still feel this sense of inequality…this issue might not necessarily be disappearing, merely pushed under the radar.” In addition, she goes on to emphasise that her work is not meant to be a battle of the sexes but one against culture, “females are not victims of the male species, they are victims of culture.”
Second, positioned as “waging war against culture” is Lee Mun Wai’s work, The Problem With Being Asian, a dance piece that speaks out to representational doubt and frustration, of constantly being unsure where to situate the self in relation to cultural representation.
Third, Choreographer Foo Yun Ying will adopt a more harmonious approach to her dance piece Equilibria. In this piece of work, culture and the self is seen as a fine balance.
She said, “In order to find harmony…we need to find the middle way.”
Having being in the Singapore’s social fabric, she wants to see if the concepts of Asian collectivism and Western Individualism could reside alongside harmoniously.
This event is commissioned by NUS Centre For the Arts, featuring dancers from T.H.E Second Dance Company. Part of T.H.E Dance Company, T.H.E Second Dance Company was founded by T.H.E’s artistic director Kuik Swee Boon aimed at training and grooming young, talented dancers aged 16 to 29. T.H.E Emerging Choreographers II will be presented at the University Cultural Centre Theatre, NUS.
University Cultural Centre Theatre, NUS 18 March 2010 Thursday 3pm. $15, $10. (student matinee)** 19 March 2010 Friday 8pm. $20, $15. (open to general public)** Tickets sales start 15 Jan 2010 at all SISTIC outlets. SISTIC: 6348 5555 / www.sistic.com www.the-dancecompany.com / www.nusartsfestival.com