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Works of discipline, elegance and energy
THE M1 Contact Dance Festival kicked off on the right foot with the triple bill by T.H.E. Dance Company, which saw three works premiered, choreographed by Kuik Swee Boon, Kim Jae Duk and Arthur Bernard Bazin, respectively.
All three were arresting in their own right, and so different so that one walked away with a spring in one's step, just reeling from the elastic possibilities of contemporary choreography. Kim's vigorously disciplined piece gave off military vibes with its precise and angled moves and poses. Kuik's pensive duet was an elegant meditation of two bodies while Bazin's Attachant was energetic to the point of exhaustion.
All were danced well by T.H.E. company dancers.
Kim's work had that aggression to it, with a lot of disciplined energy as white-suited dancers often moved in tandem with one another. In Equilibrium, where the dance is supposed to probe Chinese philosophy and contemplate the pitfalls of Western capitalism, the dancers often took poses that looked confrontational and rigid. Their energy was rooted downwards, and even looked like mating dance rituals of birds at times - for their rhythmic symmetry.
Kuik's Pure, that followed the first piece, was completely opposite, as the two male and female dancers simply melted into one another in a beautiful pensive piece.
The follow-through from the first piece was in the dancers' very conscious, deliberate breathing - and Kuik made much out of the inflation and deflation of the body, through breathing.
Pure speaks of tension and compromise, as indicated by the elegant magnetic pull the dancers had towards each other. The rise and fall of limbs and bodies also reminded one of the ebb and flow of water. Filmy linen-like tops completed the feel of the meditative piece.
The third piece, Attachant by French choreographer Bazin, is about how life is this complex tangle and web. Bazin's work was a study of the struggle and it involved such rough play that it looked almost like he invented new torture techniques.
The dancers spent most, if not all of their time, interlocked with one another as they tugged and pulled and pushed, with body slams, and intricate limb locks.
There was the element of chaos and abandon but it had to be planned and executed very well, because it was all controlled and thought-out. The dance started off with high-octane movements, but slowed down to slow-motion pace towards the end.
It's an amazing, almost masochistic piece - so kudos to T.H.E. Company dancers who danced their hearts out for this: Evelyn Toh, Chia Poh Hian, Kei Ushiroda, Billy Chantasan Keohavong and Brandon Khoo.
The triple bill was an excellent start to the dance festival - a testament to how much effort T.H.E. dance company has put into professionalising contemporary dance in Singapore.