Thursday, 12 March 2009

Shoe bling

Cinderella, Cinderella. SDT's reprise of Cinderella didn't have the wow power of the Nutcracker but it was good bitchy fun. My teenage cousin's favourite part was when the ugly stepsisters buried Cinderella in laudry basket. My artzine review here.


Oops! I had the wrong number for Frontier's ticket reservations previously, it has been corrected....

Monday, 2 March 2009

Beyond human

My best friend Y sent me an amazing link that I finally opened today. Thank you!

You too may have felt it. That moment when you or somebody you are watching or reading suddenly has a moment that is simply beyond human. What is that thing that makes us so? And how do we live with it?

Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius

Sunday, 1 March 2009

blockbuster weekend

this was one of those blockbuster weekends for Singapore dance. Friday: Variance by T.H.E. Dance Company, Saturday: Interview with the Palace Ghosts by the Arts Fission Company. Next week, SDT in Cinderella and my kinesiology teacher (no kidding) in Imelda's Boys!

"There has never been an epoch as frantic for spectacle as ours. The rush of the masses toward the screen or the stage is an unending phenomenon...This frenzy, this craving for distraction at any price, must arise from a need for reaction against the harshness and demands of modern life." - Fernand Leger,1924

what the body remembers

You woke fitfully one day in your air-conditioned bedroom, and discovered that you were Chinese. Chinese in a worn Mao suit, of a Republic carved from the blood and sweat of the Long March and a grinding revolution.

Tongue's Memory of Home was a gritty experimental dream of China's youth grappling with the ordeals of their parents, a feverish sleepwalk of four writhing dancers and projections on an undulating toilet paper screen.

The group Zuhe Niao usually bills itself as "physical theatre" rather than dance. If you prefer to split hairs, you might prefer this label. There wasn't any complex technical choreography, and no breathtaking acrobatics from the cast, many of whom crossed over from other disciplines in their 20s. What they created instead was a combination of movement, text, videography and performance art that had a theatrical intensity and a disorientation that was infectious.

"I am provoked endlessly by hesitation" - concluded a poem by Shanghai poet Wang Yin on the paper screen. The four awoke in a phantasmagoric boot camp, watched enigmatically by a fat guy (the production's erstwhile videographer) in a raincoat with a coke picnic. Stripped of privacy, the dancers marched with brutal simplicity to have their mugshots taken, to desperately cleanse their itching bodies in enamel basins, and to wrestle each other as frenzied nightmares. Above them played wrenchingly obscure images of a shirt burned on a rope, string games, acted preparations for farm work, footsteps up a twisted log. As lost as the dancers, the pudgy stranger returned to snag the video punctuation of the dancers' dreams with a butterfly net. He didn't manage to catch any of his own projections, but instead produced a blinking remote control widget, that drew each dancer to stumble in states of undress down a diagonal of light, till a girl with a crew cut and piercing gaze was left frantically gyrating her arm and naked breasts. She was assaulted by her companions as bedsheet-clad nightmares. Another dancer attempted to assuage the spirits by planting joss sticks, but came under interrogation from her colleagues who gathered around her apparition-like, demanding, What now? Sleep, she said. Dance, eat, sing, regret. She began to steal mouthfuls from the joss stick urn - handfuls of viscous black jelly. Her companions joined her, and together they smeared the wet substance over their bodies, the floor, rolled in strings of soiled toilet paper. The dancers slipped through the paper screen at the top of the stage, just before the fat guy charged into the paper mass and ripped it all down, leaving only shreds and the theatre wall to reflect images of the performers' youthful parents.

The tongue? It made a brief appearance about 45 minutes into the show when the dancers huddled together and thrust out their tongues to explore the air. But tongues were quickly swallowed again. Not quite a satisfying cameo for director Zhang Xian's hypothesis that the tongue is a concealed "limb" of the body and a key to personal memories. In the post show dialogue, Zhang did however point out that for young Chinese, the best way to bring their modern history home is to through experiments in physical sensation.

So loosen your tongue upwards. Can you taste memories where your mind does not recall them?

Tongue's Memory of Home (Shetou dui jiayuan de jiyi) by Zuhe Niao at the Esplanade Theatre Studio on 8 February 2009.