Distilling big ideas into nuanced moves

Three Kin features choreography by Kuik Swee Boon, Kim Jae Duk and Dimo Kirilov Milev.
Three Kin features choreography by Kuik Swee Boon, Kim Jae Duk and Dimo Kirilov Milev.PHOTO: BERNIE NG



T.H.E Dance Company

Esplanade Theatre Studio/Thursday

Three Kin, a triple-bill featuring choreography by Kuik Swee Boon, Kim Jae Duk and Dimo Kirilov Milev, exemplified T.H.E Dance Company's ethos of contemporary exploration via bodies and minds that are honed to transform large ideas into nuanced performance.

Kuik revisited his 2009 interpretation of humanity's disastrous encounters with a fragile world in Water Bloom. The treatise about climate change and non-sustainable environmental practices is a plea for consciousness and activism.

The imbalance unfolded through a series of contrasts and juxtapositions that revealed complex dualities where spirituality and human foibles, man and nature coexisted and fought for ascendancy.

Engaging passages of poetic lyricism were interrupted by staccato sections while at times, a lone figure stood still for a moment of reflection as the energy of the group whirred inexorably around him.

A symbolic lamp was suspended above the stage - it was manipulated throughout the show as the dancers found dimly lit corridors of light amid the shadows to reach upwards or scuttle close to the ground like animals looking for shelter.

Inevitably, they were subsumed by the darkness in a work that resonated, but often dragged into overt introspection.

Ingenious and fresh, the lexicon of movement in the male trio by award-winning Korean choreographer Kim brought humour, wit and a current vibe to the programme.

Mark 1 - Dialogue And Dance, probed the possibility of conversational threads in different bodies that were engineered to connect, creating a shared history.

Precise and frenetic, the dancers incorporated a semaphoric gestural language to code their emotions and communicated across angular pathways that stylistically echoed a computer game. They marched forward with arms making angular shapes, creating personal iconography like an animated superhero character.

Each episode was driven by relentless music as over time, the stylisation was broken down into everyday movement and scenarios of machismo and dominance played out in this highlight of the evening.

Perhaps Someone by Milev invited attention to how people interact with others.

Well-intentioned intervention might unknowingly hurt and inflame a situation. These subtleties were addressed through montages where dancers helped, manipulated or rejected one another via points of bodily contact.

The line among voyeurism, decision and interference opened a conversation about trust and abuse.

Finally, the group came together to give ludicrous advice on how a lone dancer should stand up. The sum of the parts never added up to a fulfilling whole in this fragmented work, but overall, Three Kin was a versatile, quality performance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2017, with the headline 'Distilling big ideas into nuanced moves'. Print Edition | Subscribe