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Pina Bausch will perform Nelken, a classic 1982 two-hour piece, which takes the viewer across a spectrum of emotions through its many portraits of humanity played out on a gorgeous field of carnations (above).

Another highlight of the da:ns festival will be Batsheva Dance Company's Decadance (above).

The Second Sunrise by Raka Maitra and CHOWK Productions.

Pina Bausch returns to S'pore after 40 years (Amended)

The legendary German dance company headlines an especially luminous line-up for da:ns festival.
Jul 22, 2016 5:50 AM

PINA BAUSCH, a name that sends shivers of delight down the spines of many dance lovers, is set to make a grand return to Singapore after a 40-year absence.

The legendary German dance company, founded by its eponymous choreographer, will take to the Esplanade stage for its annual da:ns festival in October. Pina Bausch will perform Nelken (Carnations), a classic 1982 two-hour piece that had further cemented Bausch's reputation as one of contemporary dance's foremost figures.

Esplanade producer Faith Tan says: "Pina Bausch was always on our radar and we've wanted to bring them to Singapore for a long time. But sometimes for some companies, it takes time for it to happen because of scheduling clashes. So we're pleased to finally be able to do it, even though she's passed on."

Bausch, a chain smoker, died of lung cancer in 2009. She left behind an extraordinary legacy of beautiful and profound works that continue to influence artists within and outside of dance.

Nelken, for instance, takes the viewer across a spectrum of emotions through its many portraits of humanity played out on a gorgeous field of carnations.

If you see only one dance this year, make it Nelken.

Meanwhile, another highlight of the da:ns festival is Batsheva Dance Company, led by the widely-admired Ohad Naharin. The Israeli company will perform Decadance, a fine collection of choreographic works that represent the best of the company's oeuvre since Naharin became its artistic director in 1990.

Anyone unfamiliar with his signature style of "stunningly flexible limbs and spines, deeply grounded movement, (and) explosive bursts", as described by The New York Times, should take this opportunity to get acquainted with the company's body of work.

Producer Tan says: "Decadence is a wonderful survey of a dance master's ouevre and has received glowing reviews wherever it's played. But the unique thing about it is that Naharin keeps changing and reinventing it every time it is staged. Even if you've seen it staged elsewhere, the show that you get in Singapore might be different."

There will be duets and full company pieces performed to music from Vivaldi to Dean Martin.

The third highlight of the festival is flamenco superstar Sara Baras whose work Voces, suite flamenca pays tribute to the dance and music legends of flamenco, namely Paco de Lucia, Camaron de la Isla, Antonio Gades, Enrique Morente, Moraito and Carmen Amaya.

Beyond the main stage performances, however, da:ns festival has several smaller shows at the Esplanade Theatre Studio space that are equally intriguing.

Chief among them is a work by French-Belgian choreographer Emmanuele Phuon, who was inspired by Cambodian boxers to create Brodal Serei (Freestyle Boxing). Fitting her dancers with boxing gloves, Phuon draws out and transposes the unexpected grace and rhythms in boxing matches, which are often gritty, bloody and unpredictable.

Also of interest in Raka Maitra's The Second Sunrise which see the odissi (a style of Indian dance) dancer collaborating with talented Singapore musicians Bani Haykal and Zai Kuning for an urgent response to Tamil poet Rudhramoorthy Cheran's war anthology. Maitra's movement vocabulary is perfect for this as it combines martial arts and classical Indian dance for a seamless whole.

Apart from these ticketed shows, there are also free performances, talks and workshops. One particularly intriguing three-day workshop conducted by conceptual choreographer Daniel Kok invites dancers, writers, arts managers, programmers, researchers and educators to come together and discuss the process of creating dance and allowing it to be seen and interpreted by the audience.

Amendment note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that tickets go on sale Oct 26. It is in fact July 26. The article above has been revised to reflect this.

Quick glance at highlights

Nelkens (Carnations) by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
Oct 13-16, 8pm or 3pm
Esplanade Theatre

The must-watch of the festival, as it marks a long-awaited return of one of the world's most revolutionary dance companies.

Decadance by Batsheva Dance Company
Oct 21-22, 8pm
Esplanade Theatre

One of the most revered living dance gurus, Ohad Naharin, presents a retrospective of his works spanning more than 20 years.

Voces, suite flamenca by Sara Baras
Oct 18-19, 8pm
Esplanade Theatre

Flamenco superstar Baras is set to raise temperatures with this sizzling homage to the legends of flamenco.

Halfbreadtechnique by Martin Schick
Oct 14-15, 9.30pm or 3pm
Esplanade Annexe Studio

Looking for something conceptual? Halfbreadtechnique is just the thing as it challenges socio-economics and neoliberalism through movement and audience participation.

The Second Sunrise by Raka Maitra and CHOWK Productions
Oct 14-15, 8pm
Esplanade Theatre Studio

Odissi dancer Maitra creates a work in response to war poetry.

Brodal Serei (Freestyle Boxing) by Emmanuele Phuon and Amrita Performing Arts
Oct 22-23, 8pm or 3pm
Esplanade Theatre Studio

The violence of boxing is distilled and reinterpreted as dance.

Cineda:ns by da:ns festival and The Projector
Sept 2-4, various timings
The Projector (Golden Mile Tower)

Terrific dance documentaries, including one on Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders titled Pina, will be screened at Singapore's premier indie cinema.