Project Plait serves five-course meal with a side of modern dance

Dancer Naomi Tan (right) in Project Plait.
Dancer Naomi Tan (right) in Project Plait. PHOTO: EUDEA TAN

A dancer and a restaurant chef team up for a night centred on an office worker's daily routine

Project Plait: The Daily Grind is billed as a dinner-and-dance event, but do not expect a tepid night of Top 40 tunes, buffet food and awkward mingling with colleagues.

This intimate show - meant for about 30 people only - is a different kind of D&D event. It will feature a dance performance by independent dancer Naomi Tan interspersed between a five-course meal in Portico, a restaurant in Alexandra Road.

Both the dance and food will be themed along the lines of an office worker's daily routine. For example, the first dance segment will feature someone waking up and getting ready for work and the first course will resemble a vanity kit.

The event takes place next Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets cost $68 each for adults. There are also limited tickets for children, who will have three-course meals.

With Project Plait, Tan, who was with contemporary dance company Dance Fission for 21/2 years before leaving last October, wanted to create pieces that were more accessible to people "who are not dancers themselves".

  • BOOK IT / PROJECT PLAIT: THE DAILY GRIND

  • WHERE: Portico Alexandra, 991B Alexandra Road, 01-10

    WHEN: Next Wednesday and Thursday, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $68 for adults (five-course menu), $28 for children (aged four to 10, three-course menu). E-mail projectplait@hotmail.com with your name, contact number, preferred date and number of tickets

    INFO: projectplait.wix.com/projectplait

"Food is a universal thing that everybody likes. I wanted to see how I could take what I do and combine it with food to reach more people outside of the world of dance," says Tan, 25, who also teaches dance at several schools.

She e-mailed a number of restaurants seeking to collaborate. One of the chefs who responded was Portico's executive chef Nixon Low. The 30-year-old says: "I like to create themed menus. But in some events, the food is too dominant. I thought this concept was interesting because the dance and food complement each other."

For the 21/2-hour show, the tables and chairs at Portico are arranged in a square around the dance space so diners can view the performance clearly. The outdoor area will remain open to regular diners.

Tan named the event Project Plait to represent a "weaving together of food and dance". There is also a pun on plait and plate.

The Daily Grind is the second edition of the event. Low and Tan created the first edition, a more conceptual event based on the seven deadly sins, in November last year and February this year.

Tan says: "The last one was more abstract. This time, it has a plot - you follow the day of a normal office worker, from morning to night."

To add to the performative nature of the show, diners will not know the menu beforehand. The courses served will be loosely based on the different meals of the day. Each will be accompanied with some text to add context to the performance.

The show will include multimedia elements - the work of Tan's sister Eudea, 23. A stage manager will help run the show, which will have optional elements of interactivity to keep the audience engaged.

Tan does not want to give anything away for this new show, but says that in the first edition of Project Plait, she made members of the audience help her eat her food - a manifestation of sloth, one of the deadly sins.

While she will be the only one dancing, Low will be busy directing his show in the kitchen. He will keep his staff of about 10 on their toes, cooking and serving the food on time. He says: "I need to know how long I need to fire each dish and some things I need to pre-plate. It's different from running a normal restaurant. Everything has to be perfect. You can't take too long, but you can't serve things too fast either. It becomes like a performance, even for me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'Weaving dinner and dance'. Print Edition | Subscribe