Friday, June 29, 2007

(D) Hiding Love - Jan 14, 2007

Pix Source: The Star

LAST weekend, in the cosy Panggung Bandaraya theatre in Kuala Lumpur, a tale of love and pain unfolded – rather murkily.

The story was told through contemporary dance, a genre rife with great risks and rewards: if you get it right, it’s spectacular; if you get it wrong?.

Not that the Kwang Tung Dance Troupe got it wrong. Choreographed by Steve Goh, Hiding Love had wonderful, lyrical moments that were executed almost flawlessly. What was lacking during the hour-long performance, perhaps, was enough story-telling and dramatic expression to convey the different facets of that most complex of human emotions, love.

The dance was performed by Faith Toh, Samantha Chong, Louise Yow, Tin Tan, Chin Kah Voon and Goh himself.

It began as a mellow affair. Complex situations force people to hide their true feelings, thus the sombre overtone projected during the performance. To match, black and white prevailed in costumes and backdrop.

In the first of five sections, Goh danced mechanically with his partner, showing no love, nor any other emotion. Instead, he stole glances at another dancer who was stretching sluggishly under a spot light.

In the next section, a dancer emerged, her movements portraying happiness, yet still quirky and erratic – until, that is, Goh joins her. Suddenly, arms, legs and bodies work smoothly and the pair are synchronised.

But the happy moments are as fleeting as their flitting movements between the pillars. Too soon, she realizes that this happiness is not hers to take and she pushes him away. At the back of the stage, hands are extended from around the pillars, reaching, grasping, and finding only thin air: love is beyond reach.

A beautiful duet ensued describing the intense pain of one having to hide love. This was the most expressive section of the dance.

It entailed a lot of travelling, lifting and jumping. The notion of tension and release characterised the movements of this duet, and there were clear repetitions of sequences.

In the end, all the dancers emerged wearing white. Each had their turn performing solo. But each was surrounded by chaos.

There was a fury of movement as the dancers ran back and forth and to and from the pillars and in circles.

Movements were fast and furious, displaying a sense of agitation and unsettledness – of people having to hide deep emotion, I presume.

The busy group work calmed down and a dancer wearing a bright red dress performed a silent solo that concluded the performance with a final display of pain and agony.

Overall, Goh displayed a good grasp of the modern contemporary dance genre though there was a hint of modern ballet in some parts of the choreography that undermined the “contemporary” tag.

In the end, though, it’s not the purity of the genre or the complexity of the theme that makes for a standout performance. It’s how you tell your story, and Goh could have handled that better.

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