Frontier Danceland performs choreography from Taiwan and Israel

A Piece Of Temporary Chaos by Taiwanese choreographer Liu Yen-Cheng. -- PHOTO: FRONTIER DANCELAND
A Piece Of Temporary Chaos by Taiwanese choreographer Liu Yen-Cheng. -- PHOTO: FRONTIER DANCELAND

Learning from a new choreographer is not just about reproducing a set of movements. It also means internalising a new dance vocabulary and mindset, says Frontier Danceland artistic director Low Mei Yoke.

The company's Milieu 2014, which opens this Friday, is a double-bill featuring creations by choreographers from Taiwan and Israel. It will be performed by dancers from Frontier Danceland, one of the oldest contemporary dance companies here.

Low, 58, says of the experience of working with guest choreographers from different cultures: "We have learnt quite a lot about their thinking patterns and all the elements which are different from what we do daily.

"It's not just new choreography, but also a different body language, a different interaction between mind and body. That's a challenge for the dancers."

This is the second year Frontier Danceland is staging a year-end production featuring international artists.

The two works this year are A Piece Of Temporary Chaos by Taiwanese choreographer Liu Yen-Cheng, and An Old Woman Picking Up A Stone From The Ground And Carrying It Back To Her House by Israeli choreographers Ohad Fishof and Noa Zuk.

Liu, 28, an independent choreographer, dancer and composer, says his work is about a release of emotions. He adds: "In our daily lives, we're faced with various emotions, whether it's anger or joy. A lot of times, our emotion can change in a split second unexpectedly. The absurdity of the world leads to emotional chaos, which we often suppress.

"Life is full of disorder and havoc, life is the inspiration behind this work."

He created the work in tandem with the company's dancers, by giving them questions or concepts, and asking them to create movement from the prompts.

Dancer Christina Chan, 26, says Liu gave them a wide variety of tasks, all of which were very different. She adds: "For example, he asked us to try to be an animal, not in a literal way like a cat crawling on all fours, but as a way of being, so that within a few steps, people would be able to tell what kind of an animal we're trying to be.

"And in the piece, I have to pretend to be tickled, to recreate the physical sensation of people touching you when they're not touching you."

The second piece, An Old Woman Picking Up A Stone From The Ground And Carrying It Back To Her House, is full of different narrative arcs.

Fishof, 44, who also works with sound, video, performance and writing in his native Israel, says: "There are many stories in the piece. They are not necessarily referential or literal, dance mostly isn't. But they convey unfolding, suspense, urgency, resolution, tension - the shapes and dynamics of narrative, the formal essence rather than a specific story.

"And then there is one scene that is literal and descriptive, where the title of the piece is being played out literally, absurdly almost."

When Fishof and Zuk, 35, worked with Frontier Danceland, they also conducted classes teaching the Gaga vocabulary of dancing, which was created by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. It emphasises awareness of the body and also to be aware of others in the room.

Chan says: "There was a very interesting contrast because Gaga is very sensation-based, which was a counterpoint choreographically to the piece, where there is a lot of form."