Dance performance explores surveillance in digital age

Sigma Contemporary Dance will put up its first online performance today. The pre-recorded show features nine dancers performing from their homes.
Sigma Contemporary Dance will put up its first online performance today. The pre-recorded show features nine dancers performing from their homes. PHOTO: SIGMA CONTEMPORARY DANCE

A local dance company will look at the idea of watching and being watched in an online show today titled Survei:ance.

In the 40-minute show by Sigma Contemporary Dance, its first online performance, nine dancers will be performing from their homes.

The company's artistic director, Mr Hong Guofeng, who directed the show, says the show aims to spur creativity despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"As contemporary dance is something that evolves with time and situations, we also take it as a challenge to work with what we have in order to present this show.

"The themes we explore in this work are inspired by the shared experience of Singaporeans and, by extension, the rest of the world. So we hope that this performance will not only connect dancers and performers, but also the many audiences that would have gone for the many shows that were cancelled."

Mr Hong and his team began rehearsing for the performance on May 8, meeting and discussing their progress through Zoom.

Using their combined screens as a "stage", the dancers adapted their movements and transitions to overcome space and technical constraints.

In the absence of a technical crew, the dancers got involved with curating angles, frames and the lighting aspects of the performance.

Experimenting with this new frontier of digital performance, the team devised ways to get creative with Zoom, to cue protocols and musical transitions in the piece.

While the team originally intended to screen a live show, team members quickly realised that technical glitches such as time lag, audio errors and disconnection could disrupt the performance. They decided to pre-record the show for their viewers in a single take instead.

"While the experience of watching a performance on a screen can never be compared with that of a live show in the theatre, we hope to bring some of that magic to the homes of our audience so that they can enjoy dance beyond physical interactions and boundaries," says a spokesman.

  • VIEW IT / SURVEI:ANCE

  • WHEN: Today, 9pm, available for 24 hours until 9pm tomorrow at facebook.com/Sigma.Contemporary

    INFO: Get more details of the show at bit.ly/surveiance. The show is free of charge but audience members can donate to the company through PayNow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2020, with the headline 'Dance performance explores surveillance in digital age'. Print Edition | Subscribe