Jamu (2006) at ASWARA

JAMU II—A Feast For The Senses Review (2006)

It is the second part of a contemporary dance performance series where dance lecturers of the National Arts Academy converge to show their works. The catch phrase for JAMU reads “Feast for the Sense” which carries with it a very strong Malaysian flavour due to the fact that we have always pride ourselves on the multiplicity of our cuisines. Besides, anything that relates to food would no doubt fill the seats. Given that it would be mixture of choreographies and dance styles, one comes with an almost confused sense of expectation. Among the choreographers: three Chinese women, one Indian of celebrity status and a young and upcoming Malay.

‘Berinai’ by A.Aris A. Kadir

The powerful lamenting voice of Fauziah Nawi broke the silence and opened the night’s performance with her ardent prayers. The stage looked very beautiful with rose petals and  ‘pelita’ (oil lamp) lit up in a circle.  The musicians’ stage contributes to the feel of a ‘kampung’ (village) setting. The two dancers were poised gracefully in the centre of the circle. They started to move to the live strumming of a guitar. Actions and movements were executed in unison mimicking the unspoken language of deep love between a man and a woman. They spent a rather long time seated on the floor before standing up. Still remaining on the spot, the gestures then got bigger as they involved more body parts. Meanwhile rose petals dropped from above as their leg movements stirred up the arranged petals on the floor, as if stirring up havoc. The energy kept rising from there and it never descended. The percussion joined in, the singing became more enlivened and the dancers got up to move out of the rose petal circle. Energizing this change was, however the altered dynamics broke the harmonious beauty that everything was cautiously upholding up till then. This was because the beauty of ‘Berinai’ lies in the serenity of the piece—amidst private moments of a newly wed couple. He was apprehensive; she was shy. They both permeate a reserved quality that is synonymous to traditional Malays. When they explore bigger movements together, one gets lost in the flinging gestures and at some points, it felt like this couple might very well be having a hard time getting along well.

The bridal costume is very elegant but it does not look good with big and swaying movements are big because then it makes the dance look messy with the excessive clothing. Perhaps traditional costumes are not appropriate for contemporary dance moves—try picturing a modern dancer performing an explosive contemporary dance piece in a tight-fitting cheongsam. Some things just do not fit together. Whilst the moves have been modernized, so must the costume be modified to accommodate the alteration. The traditional elements of this dance performance still far outshine the contemporary artistic creations. It would be much more desirable when both traditional and contemporary dance elements in this dance piece are brought to a harmonious equilibrium. But then again, who says that contemporary modern dance is all about harmony?

‘Qi, Research 1’ by Mew Chang Tsing

Before the show began, Mew had kicked off her performance by walking into the crowd at the waiting room, blindfolded. Curious onlookers stopped their chitchatting to watch as this dancer groped her way around. According to Mew, she was absorbing the energy of the people who would be watching her show later on. Her piece is about exploration; clearly an experimental activity yet with a distinct goal to gain circumstantial knowledge about performing with Qi. The result was unknown both to the performer and the audience, the process, unpredictable. Mew claimed that given these two ungoverned factors, the gain would still be invaluable.

Throughout the whole piece, there was no apparent visual connection with the audience, yet it appeared that Mew was very aware of her surroundings. She entered the stage when the crew was busy clearing the props of the previous performance yet she did not trip over anyone or anything. Her movements were improvised according to the fluctuations of energy she felt. She used very basic movements, which did not require much technical prowess on the dancer’s part. To someone foreign to the dance vocabulary, she was merely walking, tumbling, falling and finding her way around.

The strength of this piece lied in the ability of Mew to pull all her improvised acts together into a formidable performance, while invoking the philosophy behind dance and performance. Questions are compelled: What is performance? Is it necessary for a dancer to maintain eye contact with the audience at all? Is it necessary to engage or even acknowledge the audience in order for a performance to earn its name? Just because the dancer could not see the audience does not mean that she is not engaging them in her performance. For what Mew did could not be produced without the presence of a group of spectators. She was playing not with tangibility, but with the invisible elements of Qi, the energy connecting every single person in the theatre.

‘Social-Dance’ by Gan Chih Pei

Happy social dancing it was not as the title might suggest, but a piece conveying extreme loneliness and isolation in the world we are trapped in. Someone was dancing by himself. Two girls came in. Then another. Their movements were at times in unison, at times taken apart.  Their costumes were lavish, hairdos absurd, faces thickly powdered and overtly-drawn; everything was overdone, if not as it would appear in a normal society. In fact, the characters appear doll-like with their rigid expression, almost expressionless and undistinguishable of human.

A satire against the show we put up in order to be accepted by the social norm. An extravagant appearance, but all empty inside. The movements were mundane, repetitive, deliberately stiff and lifeless as they mirror the way we go about our everyday lives. The routine we mindlessly engage ourselves in without imbuing life into it. In addition, the postmodern music by Philip Glass, repetition of a simple music theme over and over again as well as Tom Wait’s experimental and bizarre combination of strange instrumentation tell of a surrealism quite peculiar to the Malaysian audience. The video installation of a normal daily routine casts a contrast to the ambience on the dance stage, and consequently aggravates the feeling of disengagement and isolation that permeates this piece. The whole dance was promptly summarized in the quote “Sometimes, when we are not alone, yet we are lonely”.

‘Thought of the Day’ by Loke Soh Kim

Loke’s piece is my favourite of all five that night as I felt it is artistically the most matured. The dancing was confident, the singing nonchalant and the lighting exact. The idea for the choreography was as simple as a thought of the day. Something unexpected reflected upon, something unforeseen gained. Loke’s dancing was improvisational—her flinging of arms and her playing with balance. Clearly, Loke was a very strong dancer, physically and mentally. Her focus was not once perturbed as she flowed through her movements. It was an introvert performance as there was no eye contact neither by her nor Goh. Throughout the piece, he was just sitting there, murmuring a sad song over and over again while casting a very forlorn figure. At the end of the three-day-show, Goh even shaved his hair to the astonishment of the audience though he might have to finish the rest offstage.

It was a great improvisation performance within the framework of appreciation shown towards generosity. As the singing became more desperate and emotional, so did the movements. From a spotlight focused on Loke to a streak of light creating a passage upon which Loke would then dance through, whilst Goh indulged in his own performance under a dim light, the mutual understanding of these three artists shone through the piece with their creation of work playing upon one another.

‘INDIGO—Into Dance I Go’ by Umesh Shetty

Clearly the most popular piece among the audience for its dynamism, acrobatic movements and heart-skipping tempo, INDIGO shoved them to the edge of their seats and robbed their applauses away. This piece had a story to tell, a dance combining traditional and modern dance movements whilst played to the electronica and big beat rock music of Propellerhead. The student dancers employed were of high caliber—their timing was exact, the elevation high enough and their attack strong. The choreography was equally exciting with traditional Indian and Malay dance elements injected into contemporary style. It was just the right dance piece to end a sumptuous evening of dance performance.


JAMU is an annual dance production that aims to provide a space for the lecturers to continue to produce creative works and expand their horizons. ASWARA is committed to improving the standards of choreography and the professionalism in the performing arts in the country. JAMU also gives the opportunity for the dancers/students to get into the creative space with their lecturers and ask questions to understand the process even further.
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A Selection From JAMU (2005, 2008, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019) is posted in https://www.facebook.com/aswara.edu/ on 21 November 2020
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For the full video, please head on over to the YouTube Channel of the Faculty of Dance ASWARA: Tari_aswara
@tari_aswara
@aswara.official

Errand into the Maze

The errand into the maze
Emblem, the heel’s blow upon space
Speak of the need and order of the dancer’s will
But the dance is still. [1]

Martha Graham in Errand into the Maze (1947)

Errand into the Maze is a dance choreographed by Martha Graham in 1947 inspired by the legend of the Minotaur. Like many other of her pieces performed during the 40s, Errand received many accolades for its exceptionality. As Janet Wolff puts it, art is a collective and historically specific product: Errand is the outgrowth of Graham’s fame and happiness that she was experiencing during those years, combined with the renewed confidence that was overtaking America after the Great Depression and World War II. I have chosen to elaborate on five determinants that are prominent in constituting the success of this dance piece—the influence of Greek mythology, feminism, Graham’s curiosity towards the subconscious, her philosophy on dance and movements as well as the social background that was evolving in America.

Influence of Greek Mythology

Errand is a piece that is predominated by Greek mythology which, throughout her dance career, has always been explored by Graham. She recalled, “My parents read mythology to me and I remember how it filled me with wonder and fright. The tales fed my imagination. Take the tale of Achilles’ heel, for instance. I wanted to know why his heel was left to become his only vulnerable place. Things like that fascinated me, so I made dances about them.”[2]

Her interest in myths did not just spark from her family; it continued to be cultivated and blossomed when she was dancing with the Denishawn dance troupe which specialized in novel and exotic styles, including Greek pageants. In addition, Graham studied the expressionistic dances of Isadora Duncan whose works were densely influenced by the Greek culture. Graham furthered her knowledge in Greek mythology through works of the renowned mythologist, Joseph Campbell.                                      

Graham’s connection with Greek mythology reached the pinnacle when Erick Hawkins stepped into her company and her life. He was a ballet dancer and a graduate of classical studies from Harvard. In fact, the Graham Company was revolutionized by Hawkins, who injected a new philosophical and aesthetic bent to the Graham dances. Together, they created numerous dances based on Greek mythology.     

Feminism            

Graham was never reserved about her strong advocacy for feminism. The majority of her dances have leading female roles whereas the male dancers were merely there to complement their female counterparts. Errand, like many other Graham pieces, is essentially about Graham herself, who epitomized the qualities of a strong and unrelenting woman. As she famously put it, “A long time ago, I decided that my place was front and center. That’s where I choose to be, and that’s where I remain.”[3]          Errand depicts the journey of a heroine from challenging her apprehension to finally conquering it. In the dance, Ariadne is menaced by a bull-headed man, whose hands are held in a yoke that lies across his shoulders. “The yoke was an unusual device to harness the man’s menacing energy. Though he could still rush around the area, he could not hold onto the woman”.[4] The prevalent message here is the powerful but not overpowering presence of man in relation to woman. Graham drives home the point that man’s dominance can be subdued and put to proportion if woman exerts her own strength of character. It is challenging yet possible for a woman to go against all odds and conquer her enemy, more importantly, her own shortcomings and fear.

Curiosity towards the Human Subconscious

            Another crucial determinant of Errand would be Graham’s curiosity towards the subconscious and consequently, the fear that is constantly lurking behind women’s minds. She was perpetually intrigued by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis and Carl Jung’s analysis of the unconscious. Hence in Errand, she blended abstracted gestures into psychological states, reflecting the individual psyche through the tremendously dramatic and charged movements. Errand is especially noted for its tension and unsettling qualities; as one of the critics, Anna Kisselgoff wrote, “It is this chord of recognition of universal desires and repressions that Miss Graham hits with unsurpassed truth in her work and brings to the surface.”[5] Graham once said that:

“If I had to present one ballet to a child of six or eight – and choosing one is no easy task- I would choose Errand into the Maze. This dance exemplifies, through the use of rope on the floor and the object in the air, the strange place you are venturing into, something a child might understand. It is a conquering of fear- to find that one place onstage where the bird that makes you want to dance lives.”[6]

“Read allegorically, the dance had little to do with the story of Ariadne, but was a representation of the unconscious fear”,[7] which is our real enemy that is holding us back from the unknown, from reaching heights we never thought we could. Through this valiant dance, Graham digs down into the subconscious—the source of women’s fear and shows how the apprehension can be vanquished by facing it courageously.

In fact, the effectiveness of Errand in expressing how one can conquer one’s fear is so pertinent that in real life, Graham recounted how in a prolonged bout of turbulence on an airplane, she had actually run through the dance mentally several times to quell the fear of crashing.

Graham’s Philosophy on Dance and Movements

As Graham famously puts it ‘Movement never lies’ and in Errand just like all her other works, she presented her inner self to the audience in the purest form. Dissatisfied with commercial dance, Graham reckoned that “dance should provoke, inform rather than entertain and that dance is a form of high art”.[8] This resulted in the movements of Errand being “elemental, involving the virulent rise of fear”[9] and more importantly the famous Graham style of contraction and release permeated through the entire piece.

In Errand, Graham utilizes simple and primitive movements — walking, running, and skipping, but not without her quintessential explosive “theatrical expressions, angular stances and stylized gestures in the limbs”.[10] The dance starts out with rigid and stiff movements to portray the fear and tension of Ariadne; but as it proceeds, the music starts to pick up and the actions get larger and more forceful—Ariadne has started to battle with her own fears. A critic commented that “It looks to be a devilish piece to dance, full of musical exactitude and long-phrase strength as well as frequent textural shifts”.[11]

Social Background of America in the Forties

During the forties, Graham was already well into her thirties and she had become less nationalistic. Instead her works became increasingly private. She choreographed Errand by looking into her own subconscious; it was almost as if Graham had become rather oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the American scene that was evolving during that time:

Americana is sweeping the concert stage over in a gust. Companies like Ballet Caravan and Balanchine’s Ballet Society emerged. [Meanwhile] prohibition pushed the cabaret entertainers into the movies; the meteoric rise of dancing stars such as ginger Rogers made movies the favourite entertainment of American and a world-wide export. Movie star dancers created a new category for dance—musical theater. [12]

Yet, amidst all this explosion of dance entertainment, Graham rose and established her own independent legacy in modern dance. Perhaps she felt that Americans were escaping the oppressiveness of the Great Depression through mass entertainment. That was exactly what she rejected in dance. She wanted dance to be authentically a form of human expression, not some rhythmic movements that were merely pleasing to watch.

Without the influence of Greek Mythology, without the feminism movement that was evolving during the late forties, perhaps Errand would not be born. Even so, Graham’s own interest in the subconscious and her philosophy on dance has a huge part to play in contributing to Errand. Last but not least, it is vital that we take into account the social background in America that Graham was being enveloped when she created Errand. Relating all five determinants of the dance Errand into the Maze to Janet Wolff’s argument, we come to the conclusion that indeed, a successful work of art cannot be attained independently; instead it is only possible when numerous aspects in the life of the artist come together to ignite that very spark of inspiration and creativity of expression.


[1] Don McDonagh, Martha Graham: A Biography (United States of America: Praeger Publishers, 1973) 68.

[2] Agnes De Mille, Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham (United States of America: Random House, 1991) 52.

[3] Marian Horosko, Martha Graham: The evolution of her Dance Theory and Training 1926-1991 (United States of America: Chicago Review Press, 1991) 28.

[4] Marian Horosko, Martha Graham: The evolution of her Dance Theory and Training 1926-1991 (United States of America: Chicago Review Press, 1991) 30.

[5] Anna Kisselgoff, “Exploring Myth to find the Contemporary Psyche” New York Times 144. 49842 (7 October 1994): C3.

[6] Agnes De Mille, Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham (United States of America: Random House, 1991) 53.

[7] Leroy Leatherman, Martha Graham: portrait of the lady as an artist. (New York: Knopf, 1966) 35.

[8]Marian Horosko, Martha Graham: The evolution of her Dance Theory and Training 1926-1991 (United States of America: Chicago Review Press, 1991) 28.

[9] Anna Kisselgoff,“Exploring Myth to find the Contemporary Psyche” New York Times 144. 49842 (7 October 1994): C3.

[10] Marian Horosko, Martha Graham: The evolution of her Dance Theory and Training 1926-1991( United States of America: Chicago Review Press, 1991) 29.

[11] Leroy Leatherman, Martha Graham: portrait of the lady as an artist (New York: Knopf, 1966) 33.

[12] Agnes De Mille, Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham (United States of America: Random House, 1991) 52.

Tao (2003) by Wen Wei Wang

My first experience of live contemporary dance by Wen Wei Wang, 2003

Wen Wei Wang

I have never seen a live contemporary dance performance before. Tao, being my first modern piece that I witnessed, opened my eyes to the theatricality, yet at the same time, the humility of dance movements on stage.

The dance started with Wen Wei Wang, clad in all white, walking nonchalantly onto the stage, drew the blinds to reveal a dancer standing, still like a statue. Then, the spotlight fell on a peacock-like-girl trotting in a “bubble” suit. I was curious why they had used the material for her costume; it made some popping sounds as she moved. Perhaps it was because the “bubbles” gave off a very fragile and transient impression, and its transparency added onto the message that it is our core (body) that is more functional and purposeful than the surface. The dancer’s movements were very creature-like, small yet swift. Her curiosity permeated the scene. All this time while the “peacock” was in action, the girl behind the blinds stood motionless, emotionless, unattached and unperturbed like a stage prop; a human prop. I thought it was an interesting concept. Usually, dancers take up a certain object as stage props, be it a tree or a flower but there she was, standing confidently, as a human.

The standing girl came to life after the peacock retired to the backstage. Her movements were more adventurous, but still very primitive. Perhaps she was another creature, coming to life on stage. I particularly liked the duet she performed with Chengxin Wei. They danced like a pair of lovers, at times shy and uncertain, at times exploding with passion.

The ensuing dance movements got bigger and more forceful as other dancers joined in. As if awakening from their hibernation and evolving into humans, the performers started to explore and experience great range of movements which were then full of exuberance and confidence. From animals and savages, the dancers later on evolved into robots and machines. There was one scene when all six dancers came onto stage, one pair after the other, jutting their ribcages sideways like typewriters. It heralded the arrival of the technological era; humans were slowly being taken over by machines instead.

There were scenes where Tao brought in a touch of homosexuality. In a rare scene, the Asian female dancer, clad in just a Chinese bath robe, danced for a bit before lying down on the floor. She was eventually unrobed by the other two female dancers, then she walked off the stage calmly, naked. It was interesting that she was unrobed by two female characters, but not the male. The message thus, clearly was not the idea of being raped—the subordination of being a woman or the objectification of the woman body. Would it be portraying the attraction towards the same sex then? In addition, it was only this Asian woman getting naked in the dance instead of the two other Caucasian dancers. Ironically, Asian women are stereotyped for being conservative and mysterious.

Other than the women, there was an all-man scene featuring Wen Wei Wang and Chengxin Wei. It must be the highlight of the piece with the most energetic and strong movements from the two male dancers. Any trace of romance between them, if there was supposed to be, was not evident, but certainly a strong sense of mutual support was exuded through their movements.

The scene where the dancers all wore long tutus regardless of their gender was especially effective in bringing forth the message of one’s “transplantation into a foreign culture [which] stirs conflicting impressions”. To further illustrate the message, there was a point where the male dancers squatted and moved awkwardly around their female counterparts while dressed in the long tutus. When appropriation or imposing of a foreign element takes place either by force or voluntarily, one is bound to appear strange because the actions do not come naturally. That reminds me of myself executing Graham movements in class; I must have appeared as awkwardly too.

“Tao reveals a circular journey, the path from one world to another. Tao is the past between two distant parts of the world through time and space”. Initially, the dancers were very unsettled and anxious, as if searching for something, perhaps the meaning of life, perhaps the borderline between the real and surreal. In the end, they were all pacified, as if they have completed their search, they have reached their destination.

“Tao is both real and surreal. Our pasts are in our dreams”. Tao reminds me a lot of a famous quote from Chuang Tzu, a Taoist philosopher that:

“Once upon a time, I, dreamt I was a butterfly,
fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly.
I was conscious only of following my fancies as a butterfly,
and was unconscious of my individuality as a man.
Suddenly, I waked, and there I lay, myself again.
Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly,
or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.”

It is the fine thread which separates reality from dream that human lives thrive on. The music that accompanied Tao throughout undeniably gave out a very surreal atmosphere. At times, it felt as if the dancers themselves were neither here nor there; they were not projecting their movements or glances towards the audience, but neither were they closing into themselves.

Wen Wei Wang, being the choreographer, exuded a sense of tranquility that is inherent in Taoism much more than the other dancers throughout the piece. Bald, clad in all white when opening the dance, he marked a salient distinction to the rest of the dancers. He started out the dance in all white and ended in the same all-white-outfit as well, driving home the point that everything that has a beginning has an end, like a circle. We come back to the very same point where we started.

Tao can be qualified as a technological piece with its high-end computer graphics. They showed the five elements of the sky in Chinese characters: earth, fire, water, metal and wood. I like the scene when it started with one arm flapping slowly like a bird’s wings and the number of arms increased as the flapping accelerated until they became this mass action of a flock of birds. The stage lighting complemented the dance very well. To emphasize on the symbolic circle, there was one point when the stage was lighted up in all red circles. While giving off a very harmonious feeling, it appeared oddly modern at the same time.

The dance movements in Tao did not appear to be extraordinarily challenging, but the dancers do require a good amount of training in modern dance. There were quite a lot of turn-outs and high jumps in the dance, hence making previous ballet training useful.  There too were certain movements which required a good deal of flexibility. Wen Wei Wang and Chengxin Wei had training in Chinese Classical Dance; this would definitely help in making their bodies more flexible than normal men.

Perhaps Taoism is essentially about being emotionally detached whilst physically involved in this world. Despite the expressive movements of the dancers, hardly any facial expression could be traced on them. I was hoping to see them in contorted faces with knitted eyebrows, but all I saw was peaceful faces, cool as cucumbers.

Even though Tao did not move me to tears like how The Nutcracker did, it certainly deepened the impression of modern dance in my life. I would love to be dancing life and philosophies on stage one day too.

Risque (2003) by Paul-André Fortier

RISQUE is a very dynamic dance which exploits the bounty of youthful energy. It is my favourite piece among all the modern dances that I have seen so far. Perhaps this is because it is the only “bright” and happy modern piece among them. It made me change my mind on the conclusion that I arrived at, that modern dance is somewhat depressing.

Paul-André Fortier

There are many factors that I like about this piece— the movements, the expression, the lighting, the music, just to name a few. To start with, the choreographer, Paul-Andre Fortier created this dance for young people my age. This enables me to relate to the dance right from the beginning. The piece is aptly called RISQUE for I, sitting on the edge of my seat, could almost feel that the dancers were taking chances throughout the 50-minute-performace. The space between the dancers was unusually close; at some point, it appeared as if they were about to clash into one another, only to miss by that very few inches. I am certain that I was not alone in fluctuating between tensing and heaving sighs of relief while watching the piece. Consequently, the dancers did a marvellous job in being aware and alert about one another’s position. They explored movements which were off balance as well—one that was recurrent throughout is the falling-and-running-back-on-a-slanting-angle movement. Gravity was on the verge of pulling them onto the ground, only to be counteracted by the dancers’ momentum of travelling backwards in the nick of time.

The actions in RISQUE were very powerful and dynamic, bringing out the vibrancy of youth. There were a substantial amount of hurling the limbs around; at times, the throwing would seem rather random and spontaneous. Paul-Andre Fortier incorporated a lot of everyday movements into the dance—running, walking, squatting and most interestingly, looking. I particularly like the eye contact that the dancers established with the audience for a great deal of the piece. Their eye contact was calm yet detached, just like the nature of juvenility: curious yet not committed.

I find it mesmerising how Fortier explored the integration of human movements through his dance. There was one particular scene where one of the female dancers, after taking off her outer blouse, accentuated the movement of her scapula by rotating her shoulder in an odd pattern. I could not take my eyes off her animated scapula which was jutting and caving in, as if possessed. Nevertheless, putting aside the intriguing effect, perhaps Fortier was attempting to demonstrate the connection of our bone structure and illustrate how the articulation of the joints and muscles would initiate movement in our bodies.

The gestures that Fortier explored in RISQUE were everyday-like yet somehow intricate. Take the gestures of the hand for example, it seemed like the dancers were executing normal daily tasks; however, the actions would come across as involuntary at times, as if the hands have gone out of control. On the other hand, Fortier frequently used contact improvisation in the dance movements. One dancer would tap or hit the other to initiate movement in him or her. It struck me that they were creating a series of chain reaction on stage. There were scenes too, when some dancers would turn into puppets and let others manoeuvre their movements. The idea of homologous movement—upper and lower part of the bodies moving as a whole respectively—was clearly depicted.

Deciphering these scenes, I realized that despite the resonance of youth, people at this age are still very much deprived of life experiences and many a times, we end up being sucked into the current trend and having to go with the flow without really getting a good grasp of our own identities. That is exactly why we need to take risks in life! If we keep following the footsteps or orders of others, we will never give ourselves a chance to discover our own potential within. I like the quote from the introduction of RISQUE:

Take a chance on daring and defying authority,

Take a chance on opening up, leaving and discovering…

And devour this bit of madness that is youth.

In a way, the performers did dance out their courage to take risks and to be on stage. That is why they carried with them a strong affecting sense of confidence, and more importantly, they were liberated through dance. There was not to be found, a hint of reservation or restriction in their movements.

The partnering was refreshing as Fortier played around with the opposite and similar sex. He even infused a brief romance into the dance; nonetheless, it was ironical that he made the dancers human puppets while portraying the “love” scene. To a certain extent, it was comical too how the boy put the girl’s arms around him, and later on, how another girl removed the previous girl from his arms and made him embrace her instead. Indeed, relationships and love affairs are starting to get complicated as we enter adolescence. Meanwhile, whilst this is happening, the other dancers went on dancing on the centre stage—the happenings were not linear but they overlap one another, sometimes I had a hard time trying to decide where to focus my attention on.

Adolescence is the quintessence of abundant creativity; similarly, innovation was a major constitution of RISQUE, as can be seen through the usage of mirror and lighting to reflect the shadows of dancers. There were a couple of scenes where the reflection of the mirror was stretched against the backdrop. I cannot figure out how the dancers were able to create this effect, it just boggles my mind! The lighting effects were commendable too, especially due to the fact that they were created by the dancers themselves through meddling of the lights with their movements or at times, just by placing bottles of water in front of the lights.

I was told that Fortier choreographed RISQUE in silence, he brought in the composer to watch the dancers and to come up with a piece of music that complements the dance. Hence, RISQUE is exceptional in the sense the dancers were not dancing to the beat, but merely with the beat. In other words, the dancers have to be extremely thorough and aware of the rhythm and timing of their movements because the music is not there to support them.