Sway, swing, spin: Got To Move festival gets public to experience dance

Dancers from The Royal Dance-Off performing at the media launch of Got To Move last week at The Arts House.
Dancers from The Royal Dance-Off performing at the media launch of Got To Move last week at The Arts House.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

The Got To Move festival invites the public to experience dance, with classes, parties and other free events

A late-night traditional dance party in the Civic District, a dance photography exhibition at Stamford Arts Centre and islandwide dance sessions are some of the activities to look forward to with Got To Move.

The national dance movement returns for the second year from Oct 7 to 23, with more than 200 programmes and activities. All the events are free.

Got To Move is organised by the National Arts Council, with the aim of growing an appreciation for dance among Singaporeans. The inaugural edition last year attracted more than 11,000 participants.

This year's slate of programmes boasts larger-scale events, called GTM Spotlight, which are spread across three weekends. This differs from last year, which had many small events culminating in one big bash at the end.

Happening parallel to the Spotlight events are Got To Move Islandwide - dance activities, including classes, educational talks and multimedia activities, organised daily from Oct 7 to 23 around Singapore.

These include introductory sessions to Argentine tango by dance school Abrazos Club from Oct 14 to 16 at public libraries in Serangoon, Bedok and Pasir Ris.

The interactive class involves the use of blindfolds and musical games to help participants understand the three fundamental concepts of social dancing - partnership, expression and musicality.

Abrazos Club is one of 41 partners of the islandwide programmes, discovered through an open-call process conducted earlier this year.

Through Got To Move, the public can experience dance in a variety of forms. For example, Spotlight event Padang Tari (Field Of Dance) on Oct 15 highlights traditional dance forms, showcasing the work of companies here that preserve and contemporise traditional forms such as Malay dance and kuda kepang.

Companies involved include The Kaizen M.D. and Maya Dance Theatre, whose contemporary works have roots in Malay and Indian dance.

Noor Effendy Ibrahim, 43, the independent producer behind Padang Tari, hopes to "expand the definition and potential of traditional dance forms" and show that "they are not touristy".

Padang Tari takes place at Empress Lawn and the Asian Civilisations Museum Green. It will culminate in a night of communal dancing, as well as a for-adults raunchy dondang sayang (love ballads) act by Peranakan arts group The Main Wayang Company.

Giving a different perspective to dance is the exhibition A Slice In Time, which features photos taken of dance performances in Singapore from the 1970s to today. It comprises 120 photos by photographers Robin Chee, Matthew Johnson, Tan Ngiap Heng and Bernie Ng. It takes place from Oct 7 to 23 at Stamford Arts Centre in Waterloo Street.

Besides photos, there will also be related events during the weekend of Oct 8 and 9, including discussions about dance photography and dance performances.

Photographer Ng, 43, says: "Dance cannot be repeated identically. Dance photography is our attempt to capture a moving element in a still image."

The last weekend of Got To Move will feature a day of dance at Goodman Arts Centre on Oct 22, with activities such as film screenings and performances; and a two-day urban dance convention at Suntec City.

With Got To Move and the Esplanade's signature da:ns festival from Oct 13 to 23, October is set to be a month for dance.

This comes on the heels of the recently concluded Singapore International Festival of Arts, which ended on Sept 17 and which also presented dance shows.

The dance calendar is also crowded with performances by home-grown dance companies and independent dancers. The arts council itself helped set up an independent dance studio, Dance Nucleus, within Goodman Arts Centre last year.

Ms Elaine Ng, the council's director of sector development for traditional arts and dance, says: "We're riding on the momentum for dance. In the past five to 10 years, there has been a growing confidence among dance artists and groups. We see this as a positive sign. But more can be done.

"The opportunities for a child to encounter dance is still limited. This is a good time to get the nation's attention through Got To Move."

•For more information, go to www.facebook.com/gottomovesg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Sway, swing, spin'. Print Edition | Subscribe