Scaling down and gearing up

South Korean choreographers Kang Jinan (above left) and Choi Minsun (above right) as well as home-grown dancer-choreographer Zhuo Zihao will be part of the Asian Festivals Exchange during the M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival.
South Korean choreographers Kang Jinan (above left) and Choi Minsun (above right) as well as home-grown dancer-choreographer Zhuo Zihao will be part of the Asian Festivals Exchange during the M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival.PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHOI MINSUN AND KANG JINAN
South Korean choreographers Kang Jinan and Choi Minsun as well as home-grown dancer-choreographer Zhuo Zihao (above) will be part of the Asian Festivals Exchange during the M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival.
South Korean choreographers Kang Jinan and Choi Minsun as well as home-grown dancer-choreographer Zhuo Zihao (above) will be part of the Asian Festivals Exchange during the M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival. PHOTO: BERNIE NG

T.H.E Dance Company shrinks its M1 dance festival line-up as it prepares an earlier edition next year

It is a busy year-end for T.H.E Dance Company.

This week, it stages the third edition of its experimental choreographers' platform, New Vision. Running from Thursday to Saturday, the choreographic showcase features five works-in-progress by the company's dancers, presented in its dance studio. Each work runs for 10 to 15 minutes.

Coming up in November and December is a scaled-down M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival, as the company gears up to move the annual festival earlier from next year.

The seven-year-old festival, which has been held at the end of the year, will be moved to May and June.

There will be only three new productions at this year's festival - down from seven last year. But audiences can look forward to six productions at next year's edition, which will take place from May 29 to June 30.

"We decided to move away from the year-end festive season, a peak period for long holiday plans and other productions," says artistic director Kuik Swee Boon of the move.

"We're avoiding similar back-toback programmes to prevent buyer fatigue."

The end of the year is usually dominated by the Singapore International Festival of Arts and the Esplanade's da:ns festival.

There is also the National Arts Council's nationwide dance movement Got To Move in October, which T.H.E is also involved in.

  • BOOK IT / M1 CONTACT CONTEMPORARY DANCE FESTIVAL

  • WHERE: All shows at the Esplanade Theatre Studio. Technique classes and workshops at Goodman Arts Centre

    WHEN: Nov 21 to Dec 10

    ADMISSION: Various prices from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

    INFO: the-contact.org

For this year's M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival, the three productions are the T.H.E Dance Company Triple Bill 2016 on Dec 1 and 2 with one work choreographed by Kuik himself; the Asian Festivals Exchange on Dec 6 and 7 featuring work by Asian and Singaporean choreographers such as T.H.E associate artist Zhuo Zihao and Japanese choreographer Miwa Okuno; and an International Artists Showcase on Dec 10. Ticket prices range from $28 to $36.

There will also be 14 dance technique classes by choreographers involved in the festival, which is from Nov 27 to Dec 8. They are priced at $25 for a class and $180 for an unlimited-class pass.

Even as the festival scales down this year, fans of T.H.E Dance Company can look forward to its New Vision platform happening this week.

It will premiere new works, including Atishoo, Atishoo, Who Falls Down? by Chia Poh Hian, which looks at the functions of tissue and toilet paper in our everyday lives. Another new piece is The Break by Billy Keohavong, a work born after he moved to Singapore from New Zealand earlier this year.

The other three works are And The Trend Of The Day Is… by Evelyn Toh, a commentary about the ephemerality of popular culture; Practice by Anthea Seah, a site-specific work dealing with the history of the T.H.E rehearsal studio; and But...fly by Wu Mi, a duet symbolising the transformative journey of a butterfly. Tickets are priced at $19.50.

Chia, 24, says the process of creating and rehearsing has been joyful: "Perhaps it is the medium that I have chosen to work with, along with extremely open-minded collaborators, that I could explore the most vulnerable and embarrassing ideas with no holds barred."

With a full slate of productions coming up, New Vision shows that the company is dedicated to helping its artists improve, and fail, if necessary.

"I think it's an excellent opportunity for dancers to express their own unique voice and essentially provides a playground that's safe and nurturing," says 23-year-old Keohavong.

Adds Kuik: "As dancers, they don't usually have to think about the concept of the works.

"This platform gives them room to experiment, encourages them not to be afraid of making mis- takes and trains them to be better artists."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2016, with the headline 'Scaling down and gearing up'. Print Edition | Subscribe