SAYANG, SAYANG, SAYANG
Drama Centre Black Box/Dec 28
Sayang, Sayang, Sayang featured six dance pieces by five aspiring choreographers of Kres! Dancers working with the group's co-founder, Bib Mockram.
The production was the Malay dance group's foray into more contemporary creations. It explored the theme of "sayang", which is the Malay word for "love", but has a more nuanced and multi-layered meaning in Malay.
It is around the interpretation of this complex word that these works were created.
Zaki Zain's Better Late Than Never opened the show and set the tone, showcasing precision and technique.
Tasteful use of repeated movement motifs helped link different segments of the work together, crafting a narrative about the importance of familial support. The jarring transitions of songs, however, disrupted the flow of the piece.
Other noteworthy works included Bib's Se-nantiAsa (A-Waiting Hope/Always) and Artiqa Faryaini's all-female piece I.
Se-nantiAsa chronicled the temporality of love and included elements of theatre, providing space for the audience to relate, pause and reflect.
The all-too-familiar tune of P. Ramlee's Getiran Jiwa gave I a dose of nostalgia. The piece began with a solo by a mature female dancer, but ultimately involved four strong female dancers.
Its exploration of female sensuality through movement and sarong batik gave audiences a glimpse into the lives of women who succumb to the societal pressures of having the perfect female body.
The production was a recital at best. Choreographers used similar tools and methods to translate their limited experiences into movement and narrative.
What was absent was the ingenuity inherent in art-making, which requires more exposure to different kinds of choreographic styles and life experiences.
HOME AND HEREAFTER
Atrika Dance Company
Stamford Arts Centre/Dec 27
Celebrating the group's 25th anniversary, Atrika Dance Company (ADC) presented works by its founder, Mazlina Buang, and her two sons - Afiq Noorazwa and Haziq Noorazwa - who have taken over the reins.
The production was segmented into the collection of works by the respective choreographers. Interview footage by Mazlina's first-born Nazurah Noorazwa acted as transitions between segments and these featured the choreographers' intimate thoughts about ADC.
Mazlina presented a reimagination of her works from the 1990s, which showcased an early style of performance with creative use of Chinese fans and explorations of the Malay silat.
The two brothers, on the other hand, had distinct contemporaneous choreographic voices.
Haziq's competency in street and traditional Malay dance saw swift footwork juxtaposed with atypical traditional gestures and creative use of props. His duet with his brother showed a high degree of skill and competency - a testament to familial talent.
Afiq created a contemporary work which was inspired by art media, celebrating the colours that he believed represented Atrika's true spirit of being diverse yet united. A "mixed-media" of contemporary dance techniques, text and references from popular media, the work provided audiences with time to reflect on the bonds people might have taken for granted.
A tribute would not be complete without close friends.
The segment titled Friends saw representatives of 10 other Malay dance groups dancing together in an age-old traditional work with the tudung-saji (conical hats) of the late 1950s. The dance transitioned into Mazlina's iconic jazz-inspired dance, Jelingan Manja.
It was a successful kaleidoscope of well-trained bodies and diverse choreographies, and a creative unpacking of the group's 25-year history, as it developed from a Malay post-traditional dance troupe focused on infusing jazz and modern elements with the traditional form, to one which produces versatile dancers well-versed in traditional, street and contemporary repertoire.