Fusion techniques and acrobatic prowess on display

Project Up Side Right is a promising triple bill produced on a budget by two local dancers from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Dance Department. PHOTO: TET PHOTOGRAPHY


Beverly Wan and Xenres Kirishima Nafa Studio Theatre/Feb 1

It is impressive that within months of graduation, two gutsy local dancers from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) Dance Department have self-produced a promising triple bill on a shoestring budget.

The standout work was Xenres Kirishima's Tempest, distinctive for his own "Water Breath" technique, which blends Chinese dance, Taoist philosophy, qigong, bagua, taiji and aikido, and skims capoeira and micro-acrobatics.

The combination sounds unmanageable, but manifested as an arresting flow of movement with a sense of grounding, depth and resistance.

The technique also featured spiral pathways and explosive initiation of movement from the core of the body.

Kirishima - who is Singaporean Chinese with Japanese foster parents - was a captivating presence in his meditative solos, surrounded by contrasting rapid sequences by a cast of six other Nafa-trained dancers.

The cast was uniform in their embodiment of Kirishima's style, suggesting that he has a good understanding of his distinctive physicality and is able to transmit it to others - a rare feat among dancers and quite an achievement for a 22-year-old.

Beverly Wan's niche appeal here was her skill in acrobatic hand-balancing and partner acrobatics. She has developed this interest in recent years through Singapore's sole amateur circus collective, Bornfire Circus.

Her two choreographies incorporated elements of acrobatics, contemporary dance and mime, in a style resembling the contemporary circus work prevalent in Europe, Australia and North America.

The choreography and narratives were raw, but the circus technique was impressive, given that Singapore has only a nascent circus scene and no formal avenues for training, in contrast with the professional academies available overseas.

With better resources, one can imagine Wan and her collaborators seeding a new genre of Singapore circus performance.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2020, with the headline Fusion techniques and acrobatic prowess on display. Subscribe