Feeding the love of food

The Future Feed performance has a mix of, among other things, dance choreography (above) and live soundscapes created from materials such as ceramic vessels (left).
The Future Feed performance has a mix of, among other things, dance choreography (above) and live soundscapes created from materials such as ceramic vessels.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
The Future Feed performance has a mix of, among other things, dance choreography (above) and live soundscapes created from materials such as ceramic vessels (left).
The Future Feed performance has a mix of, among other things, dance choreography and live soundscapes created from materials such as ceramic vessels (above).ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Dance company Arts Fission examines people's relationship with food through a talk, a dance and a meal

Talk about food, watch a dance performance about food and then eat food.

This is part of a new initiative by contemporary dance company Arts Fission, which seeks to open up conversations about people's modern relationship with - guess what - food, as well as how it relates to their connections to the land, their memories and one another.

The three-course meal starts with a free pre-show talk at library@ esplanade on Friday, followed by a ticketed multidisciplinary performance on March 17 and 18 at the Victoria Theatre; and a "post- performance night-cap" at Gallery & Co at the National Gallery on March 17.

Each portion is entirely optional.

The 60-minute dance performance, titled Future Feed, integrates movement by the company's six dancers alongside live soundscapes and multimedia.

  • VIEW IT / THE CH'I OF RICE

  • WHERE: library@esplanade, 03-01 Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, 8 Raffles Avenue

    WHEN: Friday, 7pm

    ADMISSION: Free

  • BOOK IT / FUTURE FEED

  • WHERE: Victoria Theatre, 8 Empress Place

    WHEN: March 17 and 18, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $15 to $35 (go to apactix.com)

  • MIGRATORY FARE: A POST-PERFORMANCE NIGHTCAP

  • WHERE: Gallery & Co, National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Road

    WHEN: March 17, 9.30pm

    ADMISSION: $100, includes free-flow food and cocktails (go to www.eventbrite.sg)

    INFO: Go to facebook.com/artsfission.company

The performance has roots in a research project undertaken by Arts Fission since 2007. Its members have been visiting different parts of Asia to learn about man's connection to the land and how the rice-growing culture has evolved.

For example, during the talk on Friday, titled The Ch'i Of Rice, the dance team will share its experience in the Shiroyone Senmaida ("a thousand rice paddies in Shiroyone") in Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan last year, and how the dancers adapted what they learnt into creative material.

"We have people asking us, 'what's a dance company doing in a paddy field? Shouldn't you be jumping around and dancing?'" says the company's artistic director Angela Liong.

But she felt the need to connect her dancers, who grew up in urban spaces, to the larger environment around them.

There is also a back story to this show that dates back to 1995, the year Arts Fission started. Its first production, A Grain Of Rice, explored what food meant to Asians. It was based on a chapter from the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata.

Liong says: "Now, 23 years later, I'm taking that theme and re-examining it. Did something change? What do we eat now and how does it affect people's lives? From a grain of rice to future feed."

But the themes have been modernised. For example, the show looks at issues of food security and sustainability, such as the popularity of genetically modified food. It also touches on the folklore that surrounds rice growing, with dancers recreating the spirit of the water buffalo and shamans.

Even the soundscape, designed by composer Joyce Beetuan Koh, is inspired by food and land.

Musical elements include the sound of a spoon hitting a bowl and cooking sounds, such as that of crackling fire or a charcoal oven firing up.

Ceramic vessels made by potter Suriani Suratman will also be used in an interesting way.

"We lowered a microphone in them and we got a low rumbling sound, like our own stomachs growling when we're hungry," says Koh.

Multimedia by film-maker Jasmine Ng, shot during the trip to Japan, will be integrated into the show. The set also incorporates long tables that look like dining tables.

And in a unique take on the post-show discussion, Arts Fission has partnered Gallery & Co, a cafe in National Gallery Singapore, to host a meal after the first night's show, which will give members of the audience the opportunity to interact with the artists and engage with them on the show's themes.

Gallery & Co is located about five minutes away from Victoria Theatre. Tickets to the meal cost $100, which include free-flow food and cocktails. There are limited spaces.

Due to certain constraints for both parties involved, the post- performance meal will be held only on the first night of the performance.

"Eating should be a communal act. We want to reinforce a sense of kinship," says Liong.

"Hopefully through this experience, meaningful conversations will happen."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Feeding the love of food'. Print Edition | Subscribe