Sunday, June 15, 2008

(D) My Calling, My Stage, My Act - May 2

My Calling, My Stage, My Act, a solo dance performance by Loi Chin Yu, was staged at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) last weekend.

Loi is a fine arts graduate and set designer. He acquired his dance training from the Kwangsi Association (Malaysia). His dance credits include The Tree, Lady White Snake – The Revenge, When Durian meet Banana, Red Banquet, Four Men One Face, and SeeSaw, amongst others. After a four-year hiatus from the stage, Loi was itching to dance again.

For this Taoism-inspired performance, Loi decided on a one-leg-kick approach - he was Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performer and Set Designer. However, playing too many roles actually worked against him. The outcome of the performance merely encapsulated the saying, “Jack of all trades and master of none.”

I felt that, if Loi’s intention was to make a comeback in dance, then he should have focused all his energies on creating a more enriching dance experience, both as a journey for himself as well as for the audience.

The dance itself did not move me, pique my interest, nor enlightened me. The rich philosophies and rituals of Taoism, I felt, were either not thoroughly addressed or not properly conveyed. The sword-wielding and kung fu antics were completely random and looked like a rejected scene from the now screening (in cinemas) Three Kingdoms and Forbidden Kingdom.

Loi’s space was framed in an elevated platform that somewhat resembled a boxing ring. It may not be an award-winning set, but at the least, it served its purpose as a confined dance space.

The lighting was badly designed. It was blinding and distracting. And worse, the rock concert ambience did not gel with the Taoism concept.

The first part of the dance was action-packed with the Eastern element clearly and strongly projected. The song that accompanied the dance was a modernized Japanese piece that had both a rustic and modern feel to it. The second half of the dance was the complete reverse. Loi knelt down before what seemed like an altar and stayed still through an entire song. The choice of song used at this juncture was a very mushy English number that produced a sense of hair-raising tackiness. It contradicted and destroyed the Eastern concept that Loi was working on earlier. His exit strategy was predictable and was not well thought-out.

And when it finished, I left feeling rather dissatisfied.

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