Pina Bausch’s company returns to Singapore for da:ns festival

Nelken (Carnations) by the late renowned German dancer- choreographer Pina Bausch will be staged by her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, at Esplanade's da:ns festival in October.
Nelken (Carnations) by the late renowned German dancer- choreographer Pina Bausch will be staged by her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, at Esplanade's da:ns festival in October.PHOTO: OLIVER LOOK

Esplanade's annual dance festival returns with a number of firsts, including intimate chats and dance documentaries

Dance fans will enter into the dream-like world of late renowned German dancer-choreographer Pina Bausch at Esplanade's da:ns festival in October.

The wacky yet menacing production of Nelken (Carnations) - women in floaty ethereal dresses contrasting sharply against men in austere black suits, set in a field of pink flowers - was created by Bausch in 1982.

Combining dance and drama, it will be staged at the Esplanade Theatre from Oct 13 to 16 by her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. Its last performance in Singapore was in 1979. Tickets cost between $20 and $100.

Ms Faith Tan, 34, Esplanade's producer (dance lead), says of Bausch, who died of lung cancer in 2009 at the age of 68: "Bausch was a major influence in the development of dance, breaking all its conventions and influencing artists from (American choreographer) William Forsythe to (pop star) Lady Gaga."

In particular, she was known for her style of tanztheater, a form of dance theatre involving a rich collection of sound and imagery, speech and emotional honesty from its performers.

  • BOOK IT / DA:NS FESTIVAL

  • WHERE: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Oct 13 to 23

    ADMISSION: Various, including free programmes

    INFO: www.esplanade.com/dansfestival

The cast members of Nelken include dancers of all body types from the ages of 20 to 50, four dogs and four stuntmen.

This year's da:ns festival runs from Oct 13 to 23. Tickets go on sale today.

Now in its 11th year, the festival boasts a number of firsts this year.

For example, the Esplanade is pairing up with indie cinema The Projector for the first time to screen full-length dance documentaries. Titled Cineda:ns, it will take place from Sept 2 to 4, as a prelude to the festival.

Those who want to get up close with dancers and choreographers such as Raka Maitra, the artistic director of Chowk Productions, and Malay dance pioneer Som Said can look forward to the new Coffee Chats programme in October. The intimate talk has space for up to just three people.

The festival also features two newly commissioned works.

Maitra and Chowk Productions are part of the festival for the first time with The Second Sunrise, a work about the Sri Lankan civil war.

The show on Oct 14 and 15 is a contemporary odissi piece - a classical dance from Eastern India. It will feature live music from local artists Zai Kuning and Bani Haykal.

Of Maitra, whom Esplanade has worked with in other festivals, Ms Tan says: "Through the years, she has dedicated her work to strengthening her company of dancers and expanding new vocabularies and contexts for odissi and contemporary dance."

The other commissioned work, Brodal Serei (Freestyle Boxing), is a collaboration between FrenchCambodian choreographer Emmanuele Phuon and Amrita Performing Arts in Phnom Penh.

The work is "inspired by the lives as well as physical movements of Cambodian boxers", says Ms Tan. She adds that it is a "beautiful piece which reveals the struggles of the boxers as well as honours them with choreography drawn from gestures and movements from boxing".

It will feature live traditional Khmer music as well as electronic music by local sound artist Zai Tang. It will be staged on Oct 22 and 23.

Besides Nelken, there are two other major productions at the Esplanade Theatre.

The first is a flamenco performance led by leading Spanish dancer Sara Baras titled Voces, Suite Flamenca (Voices, Suite Flamenco).

Held on Oct 18 and 19, the fiery production involving 15 performers pays tribute to flamenco dance and music legends such as flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia. Tickets cost between $20 and $120.

Fans of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin's body-aware dance language, gaga, should not miss Decadance on Oct 21 and 22 by his Batsheva Dance Company. Tickets are priced from $20 to $100.

The production condenses 20 years of the company's repertoire into one production and will include audience participation.

On top of the ticketed programmes, this year's festival also has plenty of free offerings, with performances of traditional dances from Asia such as folk dances from Sulawesi, Indonesia, as well as dance sessions for fans of hip-hop, salsa, K-pop and more on the Esplanade waterfront.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'da:ns comes into bloom'. Print Edition | Subscribe