Off Stage

Creating for herself and the audience

Chiew Peishan explores decision-making in people's lives through dance and movement in Those Decisions.
Chiew Peishan explores decision-making in people's lives through dance and movement in Those Decisions.PHOTO: BERNIE NG

Drawing inspiration from Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho's book Veronika Decides To Die, Singaporean dancer-choreographer Chiew Peishan's new piece, Those Decisions, explores decisionmaking in people's lives through dance and movement.

Her contemporary piece is one of three routines that will be staged in T.H.E Second Company's annual liTHE production. Rounding off the triple-bill performance are Spanish artist Anna Borras' new creation Enfilats and Japanese choreographer Naoko Ito's Red Flower, White Flower.

The 34-year-old, who is single, completed her Master of Arts in Contemporary Dance at London Contemporary Dance School in 2011.

Do you remember your first performance?

I vaguely remember my first stage experience was a public performance when I was part of my primary school's dance group. The memorable bits were getting all excited, prancing around in a carefree way with my dancemates and donning swimwear as costumes.

How do you prepare for a show?

For at least an hour before the performance, I shut myself off from interaction with other performers and distraction from the environment so I can tune inwards, calm my mind and body and allow myself to live the moments leading up to the beginning of the performance.

What was your funniest or most memorable moment on stage?

There was once when I fell off the set while performing and I could hear the audience gasp. While the fall was undesired (and I was reprimanded and regretful that I failed to demonstrate technical precision), it was a memorable moment as I felt a connection with the audience.

What is the harshest critique you have received? Did you agree with it and how did you deal with it?

That dance is a performing art and that my work was not created "for the audience". I admit I have little motivation to create with the sole focus of satisfying the audience. However, I am conscious of the importance of the audience and the potential for the creation to engage, communicate, evoke or provoke. The greater challenge for me is to explore a middle ground that supports my personal investigation and the work's accessibility.

What do you think makes a good dancer?

Demonstrating commitment to challenging and managing the body's physical versatility and embodiment of different states of being. A good dancer also needs to be inquisitive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'Creating for herself and the audience'. Print Edition | Subscribe