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An airing for negotiations in art-making
UNAFRAID to venture into new territory, TheatreWorks' next "dance" presentation, She Ain't Heavy, She's Reaching into Space, promises to be a hybrid of theatre and dance - where the dancers discuss what they'll dance and then perform accordingly.
"It's a desire to show something we've rehearsed but also our true selves," describes Eng Kai Er, an associate artist at TheatreWorks, whose 2012 solo performance for the M1 Fringe Festival travelled to Stockholm and Prague.
It was shortlisted for the Outstanding Performance Award at the Prague Fringe Festival.
The usual dance format is to have one choreographer and one director with the dancers, and it's "easy to slip into those roles", Eng highlights. "But for me, I'm more curious to see what happens when we're not following tradition."
Her dance partner in the duet, Faye Lim, explains that although the duo were very movement-based in the beginning, it was the process of communication and negotiating how to shape the piece that became more interesting to them.
Lim directs the Strangeweather Movement Group, a collective that creates and performs improvisational and cross-disciplinary dance works at offstage venues around Singapore.
She Ain't Heavy is a dance performance that also presents how the two dancers negotiate and decide what to do next.
"It's a bit like standup comedy as we're 'performing' a conversation," adds Eng, describing how they discuss, then perform, then debrief.
So the rehearsed dances will also be of an improvisatory nature, as the whole performance is somewhat organic. "But dance is a bigger portion than text, and there isn't a narrative or plot," says Eng.
The two met when they worked on other productions, including in contact improvisation, which is Eng's forte. Eng is also more familiar with dance theatre.
However, text and dialogue in a dance performance is very new to Lim, who says it's been challenging to practise, and yet retain spontaneity on the day of performance.
It was the difference in their approach and movement style that sparked the idea for She Ain't Heavy, where they deal with each other's preferences and styles instead of dancing towards an agreed aesthetic and sensation.
Tay Tong, TheatreWorks' general manager, notes that the production is a tangential offshoot of dance as a performance. "Their expression is an alternative to what is happening in the rest of the dance scene. What we slightly experienced practitioners must do is to give them a platform to push the boundaries and give them space to express, and perhaps fail (in a safe environment). Doing the same old does not necessarily develop the dance ecosystem," he says.
- She Ain't Heavy, She's Reaching Into Space will be held from July 28 to 30, 8pm nightly at 72-13, Mohd Sultan Road. For tickets from S$20, email email@example.com or call 6737-7213