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Dance, da:ns, dance

Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project
Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance ProjectLaurent Philippe

7 reasons to get moving this October

If you think watching a dance performance might put you to sleep, this festival will change your mind. For 10 days, Esplanade’s da:ns festival challenges your preconceived notions about dance, proving that you can break a move with two left feet and that you don’t have to be a dancer to love everything that dance has to offer.

1. Dance makes you happy and healthy

Moving your body improves your physical, mental and social heath. Unlike monotonous solo gym workouts, dancing to music is fun, triggers endorphins to lift your mood, and improves balance and coordination. There are numerous studies out there showing that dance boosts your confidence and keeps the mind sharp. At What’s Your Move, you’ll get free taster dance sessions at a massive outdoor dance space, with the Marina Bay waterfront as your backdrop. This is where professional instructors demonstrate different dance forms, from hip hop to jive and mambo, and you just have to put one foot in front of the other! No partners required, Esplanade’s festival volunteers, affectionately called da:ns kakis, are ready and waiting to lead you in a waltz or two.

2. There is no age limit to dance

We’ve all seen the online videos of 70-year-olds busting out groovy moves that put 20-somethings glued to their Netflix screens to shame. Teenager or retiree, as long as you’re raring to go, there are a wide range of dances you can try out to suit all ages and body types. Attend dance classes suitable for all ages in Balinese dances such as Wayang Wong and Calonarang or Khon, a Thai masked court dance.

3. Dance is sexy and natural

In the wild, animals dance in courtship rituals to win mates. Maybe, learning how to sway your hips might get you a better date faster than swiping right on your dating app. Turn up the heat by watching the sexiest dancers from Spain in Rocío Molina’s Bosque Ardora. Be inspired by Molina, the fearless flamenco goddess who shapeshifts gorgeously from mythological vixen to huntress in this production. She’ll take you into a forest on stage, where dangerous games of seduction unfold.

4. You’ll get to discover the world’s best dance artists

Ballet meets bare feet and shaking hips with Dada Masilo, a South African dancer-choreographer who is redefining classical ballet stories as we know it. Her version of Swan Lake is guaranteed to evoke laughter and tears. Then there’s Benjamin Millepied (the other half of Hollywood actress Natalie Portman whom he met while filming the Oscar-winning Black Swan) criticised for introducing changes too quickly at Paris Opera Ballet. The French choreographer is known for his technically virtuosic works and has gathered the best dancers in the U.S. to form L.A. Dance Project.

This season’s renowned productions not to be missed are Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake, Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project and Rocío Molina’s Bosque Ardora.

5. Thinking dance, matters 

Beyond beautiful moves, dance can ask critical questions about the world we live in. In Dance Clinic, Singaporean artist Choy Ka Fai brings together neuroscience and dance to analyse the connection between our minds and the movement we generate. Choy plays a “dance doctor” who will experiment on two dancers on stage and present his findings!

Sexuality, gender and seduction politics are explored through “macho dance” with one of Philippines’ most provocative dance artists, Eisa Jocson. In her internationally toured piece Macho Dancer, Jocson’s androgynous body flexes and gyrates to power ballads, inspired by male erotic dance seen in Manila’s night clubs. While in Corponomy, a performance lecture commissioned by Esplanade for da:ns festival, Jocson shares her personal research about representations of the dancing body in the service industry.

6. Watch the freshest street dance moves from Korea and Singapore  

Whether or not you speak the language of popping, locking and waacking, don’t miss the energetic dance showcase that wraps the 2017 edition of Sixteen da:ns Challenge. This showcase features selected dancers who have been mentored by guest choreographers from Korea, in over 16 hours of rehearsals, culminating in this performance on 21 Oct 2017. These choreographers are popping extraordinaires, Poppin J and Popkun, OG lockers Khan and Moon, and Vio and Dorocy of award-winning dance crew Team Magnolia.

If you happen to be a street dancer too, you can join the masterclasses by each dance duo – Poppin J and Popkun, Khan and Moon, and Vio and Dorocy.

7. Get answers to your burning questions about dance

What is dance? What goes through a choreographer’s mind? How do you become a dance photographer? Ask away in any of these Coffee Chats, where you can have a conversation with a dance artist or arts practitioner over coffee and dessert from Suzette (at Esplanade Annexe).

Whether you’re a dance lover, simply curious or have two left feet, come and fall in love with dance at Esplanade’s highly anticipated da:ns festival from 20 – 29 Oct 2017. Details at www.esplanade.com/dansfestival