Saturday, June 17, 2006

(D) June 11, 2006 - Evolving Horizon

Pix Source: The Star

THE sun rose on the choreographic horizon and turned the sky fresh-blood red. That was new hope painted by the young dancers and choreographers of the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Kwang Tung Association Youth Section’s dance troupe in Evolving Horizon. For the past seven years, the troupe has organised an annual showcase series, titled Kua Bu (taking the leap forward) for its student dancers to perform and learn to produce shows.

This year, the troupe took the leap towards a professional production in a proper theatre setting.

Evolving Horizon, staged in Kuala Lumpur early June, featured works by six young choreographers. Of these, three showed great potential, namely Love in 4.28 by Tin Tan, Walk Out by Samantha Chong, and Passages by Faith Toh.

In Love in 4.28, dancers dressed as clownish waitresses were slaves to time. Like clockwork, they struck a pose at the end of each dance phrase. There was also a brilliant touch of humour as dancers reacted to music that sounded like it came from a scratched record. The notion of “love”, however, was less evident and only revealed itself vaguely in the tango scenes.

Sign language, the mode of communication used by the deaf, literally echoed through Walk Out. It successfully evoked feelings of immense emotional pain and lured the audience into the psyche of a person trapped by circumstances.

Underneath the soothing strains of string and voice lurked a deep sense of loss. Then, as the music became more vigorous, the dancers doubled their speed – sometimes in unison, and sometimes one after another – creating diagonal and triangular formations. Release!, Let go!, and Walk out! were what they intended to do in the latter part of the dance as they pulled their hair upwards to “over-extend” their bodies. They finally ended with a decisive clasping of hands.

Passages, which looked at man’s evolution, was also reflective of karma. Three dancers in diagonal position - one standing, one bending forward and one kneeling – formed a plane that rose on the left and dropped on the right.

The dancer on centre stage moved like an animal - she bent forward, almost on all fours. As though watching a scene from Animal Planet, I relished the graceful vertebrae-by-vertebrae movements. Evolving from animal to man, the second dancer took bigger steps and larger, sweeping movements whilst the third, standing upright, travelled across and around the stage.

It seemed like they had regressed from man to animal when, with backs bent towards us, the dancers flopped forward and shook their butts like birds ruffling their feathers after the rain. The “birds” then frolicked with a huge rubber ball but quickly abandoned it before taking flight in single-file migratory position.

Though I would have preferred a less jittery ending, the dancers, with their backs towards each other, shook their bodies repeatedly as they moved in circles until the lights blacked out. Thus is the passage of life, being born and reborn, and who knows what next?

Teresa Chian’s Two Pages for Kim differed from the other works in the showcase. This short piece featured a solo (performed by Chian herself) and used only the confines of a space encircled by lit candles placed on the floor. The movement vocabulary was primarily defined by the tugging of an invisible rope from both directions. I wondered if she was using ropes to turn two gigantic pages.

Busy. Rest by Louise Yow managed to create a busy environment on stage. The dancers moved in one direction but were rudely pushed by some invisible brute force that set them on the opposite path. There was a clear sequence of movement that was subsequently repeated in whole or in part. The soundscape alternated between music and silence, hence “busy” and “rest”. But the piece fell short of a balance between those two elements, as there was no “rest” for the body.

Behind by Chin Kah Voon and Mak Foong Ming lagged behind the other works, conceptually. It is great to be able to stitch together a series of movements but the choreography also needs to express something. What the pair aimed to say did not resonate clearly.

Dancers in this showcase comprised the above-mentioned choreographers, as well as Tan Bee Hung, Foong Siew Ching, and Kho Chin Aun. All of them proved to be competent dancers who certainly have the potential to improve.

It certainly looks like the Kwang Tung dance troupe’s efforts in training the younger generation are paying off.

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