Dance In Review

Scenes of longing and striving

In this new monthly feature, The Straits Times highlights dance performances from the past month

In What If… Smells Could Come Alive?, four dancers found emotions and narratives in different scents and translated these into movement. PHOTO: ARTS HOUSE

WHAT IF… SMELLS COULD COME ALIVE? and WHAT IF… FLOWT IS BACK?

ScRach MarcS, Flowt Collective

Aliwal Arts Centre/ Jan 18

At the seventh edition of the Aliwal Urban Arts Festival, local dance duo ScRach MarcS helmed the dance programmes, sending dancers bopping down the streets and throwing a funky dance party to end the night.

At the forefront of the street dance scene, ScRach MarcS is known for pushing boundaries and situating its work in new contexts.

The "What If" theme of this year's festival seemed fitting as the pair, along with their peers, sought new expressive capabilities for their movement forms.

What If… Smells Could Come Alive? featured four dancers finding emotions and narratives in different scents, and translating these into movement.

Some scents were bright and others were heady. But they were all bittersweet, and this resulted in scenes of longing and striving.

Marcus Leong was stuck in a time warp, with all his movements seemingly magnified in slow motion.

Gerald Chan seemed weighted down to the floor, slowly building his body back up like a tower of Lego bricks.

Luqman Asad slipped and slid between two pillars, caught between regret and redress, and Gin Lam offered her body as a canvas for the audience to draw on.

While some of these segments felt overlong and threatened to be overwrought, there were striking moments - a laboured exhale, an empty gaze, a precariously held freeze - at close proximity to the performers, as the audience gathered around each of them in various areas of the hall.


In What If… Smells Could Come Alive?, four dancers found emotions and narratives in different scents and translated these into movement. PHOTO: ARTS HOUSE

To use street dance vocabulary - from its engrossing grooves to its breakneck virtuosity - in this manner, stripped of the music which is its driving force, was a challenge that was gallantly met.

This was followed by What If… Flowt Is Back?, which stepped further out of the box.

Beginning with the thrilling finale of their 2018 performance, based on the theme of fear, the five members of Flowt Collective - including ScRach MarcS - then took their bows and moved chairs on stage for a post-show discussion.

Through the questions, the ensemble began to unravel the strands of their creative process.

From demonstrating improvisational tasks based on words and an eclectic range of music, to dancing through the various influences on their styles of movement, they not only revealed their readiness to share their craft, but also their voracious appetite for breaking new ground.

This segued into the dancers reprising their personas from the previous iteration.

Leong fell repeatedly but was unable to escape Chan's grasp. An electric dialogue in waacking unfolded between Rachel Tan and Amin Alifin as they each thrust their arms into the space of the other.

The action built to a rousing finale, with the lights going out as the ensemble leapt towards the audience. They then bowed again, but this time the applause seemed louder, bolstered by the knowledge of the risks and rewards of the artists' process.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2020, with the headline 'Scenes of longing and striving'. Print Edition | Subscribe