Thursday, 21 August, 2014

Published January 31, 2014
Body language takes centre stage
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Dancers create their own form of mashing crosstalk and contemporary dance in The Ordinary Man. - PHOTO: MATTHEW JOHNSON

BT 20140131 UHORDINARY31A 938569

AN upcoming full-length piece will see T.H.E. Dance Company spearheading a uniquely Asian form of dance theatre with the use of the Chinese form of crosstalk.

Dancers will banter and exchange puns with one another and dance as well, in their own form of mashing crosstalk and contemporary dance.

It's a dance derived by the eight dancers, who come from Singapore, Taiwan, China, Australia and the Philippines, and the creation was a group effort, says Kuik Swee Boon, the artistic director of T.H.E. Dance Company.

"We threw them questions for their responses, and movement was then derived from their replies," explains Kuik, who co-choreographed The Ordinary Man with Wu Yi San from Taiwan.

As the title suggests, The Ordinary Man alludes to everyday issues faced in Singapore, with a humorous twist.

Crosstalk is a traditional Chinese comedic performance in the form of a dialogue - which can be done by solo in a monology, between two performers or in a group. Puns and allusions form the crux of crosstalk. In the production, Mandarin and English will be the main languages used, but also other languages and Chinese dialects such as Hokkien and Cantonese.

This full-length piece was developed by crosstalk; a short 20-minute piece was first performed at the NUS Arts Festival in 2012, choreographed by Wu.

Kuik said that it's a piece that's light-hearted as well as weighty because it refers to traditional Chinese culture, plus local issues. "And what language can't really express, the body takes over," he adds. It's the most "language-heavy" piece the company has done, but also one that's easy to engage in.

"I never realised that my dancers could act so well until we did this piece. They have hidden talents!" quips Kuik.

  • The Ordinary Man will be performed at The Esplanade Theatre Studio, on Feb 16, at 3pm & 8pm. Tickets can be bought at Sistic