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Nelken (Carnations), an offering from the 11th edition of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay's da:ns festival.

A performance from T.H.E Dance Company Triple Bill.

Jabula by Natalie Weir, for Singapore Dance Theatre's Passages.

Jerome Bel, who will be presenting Gala.

'Tis the season for dance

Dance fans are spoilt for choice from now until December. Here are some highlights of the season.
Sep 30, 2016 5:50 AM

THE themes in contemporary dance can be as varied as theatre. Dance fans can rejoice as there will be a smorgasbord of dance from now until December - with at least three dance festivals and individual events going on. The contemporary dances focus on different elements. BT Lifestyle picks some of the highlights to go for.

Different bodies

After a while, contemporary dance can be as standardised as ballet, points out French choreographer Jerome Bel. "I was bored watching the dancers with the same bodies but also same references and cultures. I had the intuition that something was wrong in the representations of the bodies that contemporary dance was offering. It was too uniformised."

So he set about finding a way to represent different bodies on stage, which to him was a "political" move. The result is Gala, which he says is about "not excluding anyone from dance" and includes even the mentally disabled.

The mentally disabled performer becomes "visible" in the motley group of dancers, he feels.  "The audience has to watch them, which is something they hardly do because they don't want to. There is fear and ignorance because it is unknown," he explains.

Theatre, art, and representation are ways to connect the audience with the unknown, stresses Bel. "And when you know about something, when you understand it, you have no more fear. That's maybe why the first artists drew dangerous animals on the walls of their caves, in order to fear them less."

The common factor among the dancers he's chosen is their differences as they come from different walks of life. One is a national gymnast, others are disabled, retirees, teenagers and children. This premiere in Asia will have its own Singapore take.

TheatreWorks managing director Tay Tong notes: "We love it when Gala creates a space where ability is dictated not by one's limitations, but by being the best that one can be. It is something which is can resonate with us living and working in Singapore."

  • Oct 6-8, 8pm, Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Place. For tickets from S$22, please go to

Korean choreographers

Part of the seventh DanzINC by Odyssey Dance Theatre, The Road will be a duet by dancers Lee Yun Kyung and Ryu Seok Hun from Dance Company The Body from Korea.

Ryu is the gold medallist of the Japan International Ballet and Modern Dance competition; while Lee, a professor, is often seen on stage at major international dance festivals.

The Road is based on motifs from a Korean folksong A-Ri-Rang. The company ropes in people from various fields such as dance, theater, art to create their works.

  • Oct 22, 8pm, Aliwal Arts Centre, 28 Aliwal Street. For tickets from S$38, please go to

Singapore Dance Theatre's contemporary season - Passages

Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) has only one contemporary performance a year and this year's programme will include a world premiere by Timothy Harbour, the resident choreographer of Australian Ballet; Singaporean Christina Chan's new work and fourth creation for SDT since 2012; a reprise of Edmund Stripe's Piano Concerto No.2 Opus 102, a precise and rhythmic work; and American choreographer Natalie Weir's Jabula which is also in the repertoire of the Austraian Ballet and American Ballet Theatre Company.

  • Passages Oct 28 - 30, 7.30pm and 3pm, Esplanade Theatre Studio. Tickets at S$30 are available from and SDT.

New works

The M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival will see the world premiere of three new works: Pure by Kuik Swee Boon (Singapore/Malaysia), Equilibrium by Kim Jae Duk (South Korea) and Attachant by Arthur Bernard Bazin (France).

Inspired by the philosophical adage, l'existence précède l'essence (existence precedes essence), Kuik examines the complexities of "living together" as both a unit of family and society, and asks the question: does one's desire to be part of a community also allow one to be honest to oneself?

Kim's work, Equilibrium, probes the pitfalls of Western capitalism: increased greed, jealousy, and unhappiness; while Bazin returns with an intimate duet with his Argentinian partner Candeleria Antelo.

  • T.H.E Dance Company Triple Bill 2016 - World Premiere, Dec 1 & 2, 8pm, Esplanade Theatre Studio. Tickets at S$36 from Get the Festival Pass to see any three shows and any five Technique Classes.

Iconic choreographers

The 11th edition of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay's da:ns festival, from Oct 13 - 23, will feature eight ticketed productions, over 40 workshops and masterclasses, and over 90 free performances and activities.

Headlining the main ticketed productions will be one of German choreographer Pina Bausch's most beautiful and iconic works - the whimsical and nostalgic Nelken (Carnations). Singapore audiences have not seen a work performed by her company since the 1970s. Bausch, who created works up till her death in 2009, broke boundaries between forms, developing the "dance theatre" style.

Carnations (created in 1982) will feature dancers of all body types and ages (from 20 to 50 years old), and is set in a meadow of pink carnations, where stories unfold with childlike playfulness as well as melancholy.