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And they danced their hearts out
THE dancers did solos, performed as a company and then there were also segments where several of them did their own choreography for the group, to the music of their choice.
Theatreworks-commissioned GALA by Jerome Bel looked like a dance, but it wasn't your typical dance performance at all with most of the 20 performers on stage being "ordinary" people who hadn't been trained in one particular school of dance.
Instead, they brought just themselves; and the way they moved their own bodies to music was shaped into a witty performance by French choreographer Bel.
It started with the solos first - each of the dancers aged from seven to 74 walked one by one to the middle of the stage, gave a short dance and walked off. Then came the bows, where each showed the kind of bow they liked to give. A segment called "Michael Jackson" had them each imitate or represent the pop singer's famous moonwalk, walking backwards from one end of the stage to the other.
Not forsaking the classics, the dancers paired up with one another to do the waltz, mostly unsuccessfully, but it tickled the crowd. By then, the audience had caught on to the concept pioneered by Bel three years ago in France, where he worked with amateurs who had diverse backgrounds in dance. When the dancers came out one by one for the third time, we got an idea of their personalities - some were proper, some were quirky, some confident, while some simply tried their best.
In the segment showing "company" dance, each performer took the lead while the rest of the group just followed as best they could. This clinched the show, as they had the audience hooting in laughter. One yoga teacher went through yoga motions, for example, while local drag queen Becca d' Bus got the groove going with her dance to M.I.A's Bucky Done Gun.
All the performers also swapped clothes for this segment, an indication that they had become part of a company rather than individuals that had come together.
Seven year-old Samuel Lim - the cutest member of the group - was also given a chance to choreograph and hilariously led everyone on what seemed like a wild goose chase dance. Margaret Revalle on the wheelchair led a dance that had the audience swaying and clapping along. The surprise of the night was Alison Tang who awed the audience when she presented her superb ribbon dance.
Who'd have thought that it takes super skill to twirl that long ribbon on a stick? The other dancers tried their best to emulate her, but their abject failure to control the ribbon had the audience in stitches.
What does it mean to dance? GALA showed us it's not as easy as it seems - even if contemporary dance sometimes have simplistic movements like just falling down, standing up and walking around.
Bel's "experiment" certainly shook up the contemporary dance scene by breaking down what's standard about it - to give us individualisation of dance and the individual's interpretation of movement and personal style.
It was a night of hilarity - not that we were laughing at the dancers' lack of skill, but that they had the chutzpah to just be themselves, get on stage and dance their hearts out.