New home-grown dance company Re:Dance Theatre 2 debuts

The first of the trio of works is Fitted, which is inspired by how clothing is an integral part of a person's image.
The first of the trio of works is Fitted, which is inspired by how clothing is an integral part of a person's image.PHOTO: NADIA ONGKOWIDJAJA

Home-grown group Re:Dance Theatre's second company, Re:Dance Theatre 2, will be making its debut this Friday with a triple bill of works created by company dancers.

Artistic director Albert Tiong says: "When Re:Dance Theatre opened, we already had dancers in the second company, but they were not yet stable. They came from different backgrounds, some were not professional dancers but had dance experience in university or polytechnic.

"It was hard for us to train and perform, but this year, I feel that everything is more stable."

Re:Dance Theatre was set up in 2012 and its second company now has 10 core dancers. The second company houses younger, less experienced dancers. Eight of them will be performing this week in the triple bill, Prologue.

The first of the trio of works is Fitted, choreographed by Rachel Lum, 24. In it, the dancers are garbed in long-sleeved tops which they stretch out, twist and yank as they move.

Lum says her work is inspired by how clothing is an integral part of a person's image.

"How we choose to wear our clothes is how we want people to see us; it's our first impression," she says. "For example, if I dress like a sweet lady, I want people to think that I am that lady. If I wear more rugged clothing, people will think that's my outlook. You can influence how you want people to see you."

Some of the movements in the piece are borne out of her own manner as well. "When I'm tired in rehearsal, I'll do this," she says, threading her arm underneath her loose top and resting it on the stretched-out neckline. "I guess I've put in quite a lot of my habits into the piece."

The second piece is Insight by Adeline Ee, a second company dancer. The others are from the main company.

The work is presented in three parts, beginning with very sharp, bird-like movements, jabs and angled hands acting as a counterpoint to a stiff lower body.

She says: "The whole piece is about making a decision. The first part is about a discussion, having that past, present and future in your head. Then there is a dilemma, in which you cannot make up your mind - this is good, that is good, so what do I do? Then there is the settling."

The 27-year-old was inspired to create the piece as a reflection on all the little choices people make every day. "Sometimes I wonder, how did I end up here? We're constantly making decisions, but a lot of the time people don't stop to really think about them, we just keep going."

The last piece is the lengthily titled Me And You And It And We To We by Seow Yi Qing, 29. Before the stage lights click on, the audience can hear intense, crackly rustling as dancers run through a river of dried brown leaves on stage.

The piece is about recycling and the environment and was birthed after an incident which happened in Malaysia in 2012. Australian rare earths mining company Lynas had built a plant in Pahang, despite concerns that it would release waste into the environment.

"Before that, I was just a girl who was concerned about my dance and my life, I wasn't concerned about any other things," Seow says.

"But that incident made me aware that as dancers, we cannot just dance, we are using the environment and need to be responsible for that."

She decided to cover the stage with leaves because "when you think about the environment, the first thing you'd think of is that there are fewer and fewer trees."

"But trees are producing oxygen and if every tree dies we would also perish. To many people, these dried leaves may seem useless, but they protect the soil and will be turned back into nutrients in the earth."

With the debut of the dance theatre's second company, artistic director Tiong hope to boost the profile of the main company as well.

"Hopefully, RDT2 will help the RDT main company train dancers and they can slowly head in a professional direction. If the main company has projects, it can also chip in."