Moving… On – LASALLE College of the Arts 2017

8 April 2017

Moving… On is LASALLE College of the Arts School of Dance graduation performance, which was held at The Singapore Airlines Theatre in the basement of their campus.  The performance included five dance pieces.

The first was The Loop, choreographed by Barbara Matijevic (Croatia/France) and, I assume, the dancers involved as well. This piece took place in the area outside the theatre, stretching from the toilets to the entrance of the theatre. It consisted of seven individual stations, each with a large sign which presented the task’s title.

By taking turns in the roles of teachers, students or choreographers, they approach pedagogic practice as a performative act in its own right. The Loop presents the body as a repository of different skills; as well as an ensemble of our attitudes towards those skills and how they operate in the world dominated by logos.

–  Taken from the programme booklet

The entire performance space was large enough so that audience members had to move physically from station to station to hear and watch what the performers were doing. Every few minutes a bell would ring to signal the end of one section and the dancers would then move one spot down in the cycle.

Many things were happening at the same time: one station was labelled Dance Tutorial, one was labelled The Thing I Cannot Do, another had two people teaching and demonstrating self-defence techniques, another had a roundtable discussion where performers had microphones and wore name tags of famous figures in modern and contemporary dance.

The tasks at each station were very interesting, and when matched with the short few minutes given to the performance at each one, I couldn’t help but think how this format really works for spectators who were ‘millennials with the attention span of a goldfish’.

The gallery format and the constant moving of the performers created this (almost literal) cyclical pattern that emerged as the piece progressed.

While the tasks themselves were interesting enough to watch, what I found even more fascinating were the moments when the performers had no audience at their station, or just a few people watching them. The change of energy and projection in their performance and that occasional awkward eye-contact or that typical staring-into-the-distance-when-there’s-someone-right-in-front-of-you is quite funny.

Another funny moment was when a performer at the Roundtable, wearing the name tag that said “Lin Hwai-min” said that her (his?) first choreographed dance work was Legacy, which is unfortunately untrue. Personally I especially enjoyed this station. There were the name tags of Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, Mary Wigman, Pina Bausch, Lin Hwai-min and some others that I didn’t manage to catch. Once each performer put on the name tag, they would begin to talk (and sometimes even behave) as if they were speaking from the point of view of that particular person. They spoke generally about each artist’s beliefs and background, but already there is so much to unpack! What drew me in at first was not the content of what they were saying, but that I could see that they were mimicking the body language of the artists. For example, the performer playing Lin Hwai-min sat tall in her chair, not leaning on the back of it, and had her arms crossed while nodding in agreement with what someone else had said.

This is a work waiting to happen! But because this is a structured improvisation, and only one of the seven stations (of which most require talking directly to the audience), many details weren’t given greater attention. The content of the text, the way of delivering the text, the body language, the way of responding to what others are saying, how to arrive and how to leave the table etc.

In fact I felt like this piece could easily have been a full-length work, but which instead ended up becoming something like a Buzzfeed ‘Seven Things All College Dance Majors Have Experienced’.

Then we were ushered into the theatre for the next piece, Equal choreographed by Lee Jae-young (Korea).

Everything is different in terms of body, skin, age and sex. But as a human being, we are all equal.

–  Taken from the programme booklet

I felt like this was a piece that was trying to make different people do the same thing, which is already a disaster waiting to happen.

To be fair, I felt fine till the first big musical accent (i.e. BOOM), and I even smiled a bit after that, because I love loud beats in the theatre (so sue me). But it soon crashed for me. The choreography followed the tempo to a tee, which was way too slow for a fast piece of music, it actually ended up looking like group aerobics. And because the dancers were not neat, there wasn’t much to look at either. I liked the chest isolations and the movements themselves were fine, but the regular beats were so slow that I felt the dancers were always waiting to perform the next movement, and NOT in the sense that there was tension in the waiting.

When unison movements aren’t tight and together, it is really off-putting. And because I come from a classical Chinese dance background, unisons have a special place in my heart. So… do them justice people!

There was a lot of walking across the space in the piece too, and some dancers had swag, some did the contemporary dance walking-with-intention, some were doing a pedestrian walk…. it was like, do you even know why you are walking and how you contribute structurally and dynamically to what is already onstage or not? And I feel like these things have to be pointed out by the choreographer or the rehearsal director, because its hard for dancers to see the whole picture.

Then the next piece was Yarra Ileto’s (Singapore) Elite Ramblings.

When I saw the costumes, my first thought was “Oh I can borrow those for performances next time” because they were Chinese palace maids/concubines-inspired. Oh my gosh but this piece was so politically loaded for me, especially because I’m a Chinese dancer right?

There was one male dancer among the other female dancers, and it took me half the piece to figure out if he was the Head Eunuch who trains the new palace maids or the Emperor. Turns out he was the king. He’s a good dancer with great elevation in his jumps and he’s also careful with his transitions and details, but he performs quite effeminately/femininely. Which is delicious to watch! But not knowing whether it was deliberately performed in that manner made me quite confused. Maybe he’s just a gay emperor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_history_in_China)?

The movements in the first two-thirds of the piece was a bit messy, but it was still quite energetic and dynamic, and with that costume there was this added swishy thing which accentuates that. I can’t help feeling though, that if there were more attention paid to the unison movements being performed at the exact same time (i.e. that the dancers initiate and end the movement at the same moment), it would look even better and the overall visual and energetic effect of the dance would be much tighter and therefore greater!

At this point, I must say that the dancers (whether it is because of a lack of foundation or fatigue) did appear quite weak, with many of them losing their balance in movements which required them to stand on one leg. As a dancer I get how hard that is (my teacher used to call me an ice-skater in class), but I also know that if I can’t even stand on one leg without shaking, its very hard to be respected as a professional dancer, no?

I did not like the white flower, I thought it was too symbolic, almost like something one would see in a Chinese dance drama. I would be interested in different ways of performing ‘a loss of innocence’ through dance/movement/performance though.

The sections were titled with such big words! I remember Cavalcade but I don’t remember the rest. I did like the last section though, because everything quietened down and here I saw attention to detail and tension in the air. Paired with the video projection (I preferred the second video, because the dancers weren’t looking directly at the screen), and the women-taking-over-the-emperor thing going on, I really enjoyed it.

Side note: dancers should really work on their faces more. And voices, if they die die must talk (I hate it when dancers talk, sorry). Anyone can just look at the camera and do what they’re supposed to be doing, but what are you looking at the camera for? Are you really looking at the camera or the person you perceive to be watching you? Your face is also your body you know, I’m quite sick of seeing the typical contemp poker face or intense face when there’s no specific reason for it. Its literally a face that doesn’t exist in reality, or outside the performance space. Or does it?

Then was Footprints with Dance, choreographed by Selina Tan (Singapore). The beginning was interesting, with the instruments that the dancers manipulated with their hands. They made nice sounding rattles and clicks. Then they began talking. About why they fell in love with dance.

I know this is a school production but can we leave all this ‘passion for dance’ and ‘dancing is my dream’ themes for SYF?

Can we have a deeper level of thinking? It doesn’t have to be that deep either, I could do with ‘a moment in your dance journey where you felt like quitting dance’ or even the transition from an idealistic new dance student to someone who is about to formally enter the dance industry as a practitioner and has to strategise his/her pathway in order to balance practice and income.

Then they began doing the same set of movements in different structural patterns.

I recently saw Admiralty Secondary School’s SYF item and it had even more complicated structural patterns than this.

The last piece was Patterns choreographed by Albert Tiong (Singapore).

It is always a joy to watch Albert’s work. This is completely a personal preference, but I have several reasons: he always picks the strongest dancers, not just because of preference but also out of necessity, because his pieces are technically difficult and physically exhausting to perform. His movement style is usually clean, strong, grounded and juicy. He also often complements the music and tempo, playing with them, not just with the timing of the steps but also through using different dynamics within the movement sequences.

I really liked the costume as well! This standing tall in a large second position is such a nice, strong shape!

Most of the dancers got really tired at the end of the piece and it was a pity, because when the movements lose their detail and variety in texture, there isn’t a lot left to watch.

It isn’t fair to make a comparison (because some dancers performed in multiple pieces tonight), but I will do so here because I want to commend the NUS Synergy performers. Albert created the piece Double for NUS Synergy in their recent performance FUSE(D) on 10th March. It was a lengthy duet and as usual, physically exhausting. The two dancers, however, kept their energy going and were able to perform explosive dynamic movements all the way till the end of the piece. They were not professionally-trained dancers, and I was very impressed with the quality of their performance, especially when it was not an easy piece to perform: with a lot of repetition, points of contact and of course, movements performed in Albert’s movement style. I found myself wishing I could move as well as Zong Qi could!

Anyway, on the whole it was an enjoyable night! Graduation performances always are a bit magical because there’s this energy that the dancers give off. For some it might be the last time they get to perform on such a stage. For some it might be the last time they get to dance with their fellow class/schoolmates. Its like that song in Lion King:

Can you feel the love tonight?
You needn’t look too far
Stealing through the night’s uncertainties
Love is where they are

Whether it is love for their fellow dancers, love for the stage, or love for dance… that cheer at the end of the last graduation showcase says it all.

Logan and simultaneous narratives

Was just watching LOGAN last night with the family, and it was pretty good. Very gory, but there were some moments in the movie where I thought the script was good and the timing of the unfurling events were so tight that it was mind boggling.

And I had just read the introduction of The Enchantment of Modern Life by Jane Bennett for SIFA, and it spoke of Enchantment in a way that really resonated with me.

I think its basically been something I’ve been trying to do since… London?

When I wasn’t busy any more and when I had to fill my time up with reading, writing, watching. Until even social media became utterly boring.

Then I had to find a way to keep fascinated, to keep engaged with the world around me, even if it wasn’t with other humans. So if I couldn’t change the amount of input that I got, I had to change the way I thought/viewed the world around me.

This world of disenchantment… so many hateful people, terrible events; each day you realise that human nature is even more disgusting than before.

How does one stay aware but not lose all hope?

So this theory of enchantment. Of being aware of the tiny tiny details that you never thought to take notice of. Of being aware that while you are living out your narrative, there are a million, billion other simultaneous narratives happening. And these other narratives might even cross paths with yours, some more obviously, some less so.

Side stories, mini-stories; what if the mountain in your story was someone else’s molehill?

That would change your perspective no?

It would change your feelings about it. Perhaps.

These acts fall into the shadow of your rushing, indignant body. You note them—they are within the purview of your experience—but you pass them by. But if you were to gather up these dark, discarded scraps and peer into them, you would be on a different path, the path of a Kafkan tale.

We are always both participant and observer in this multiverse of stories. We watch ourselves from the inside, we look at ourselves through videos and mirrors, we watch others in reality and in the virtual world, we pretend we aren’t watching others, we keep our eyes lowered in front of strangers.

When Charles was dying, Laura was screaming her head off 50 metres away in adamantine cuffs, X24 was killing innocent (this is debatable) mortals, Dr Weirdo was cooing for X24 to return, the Albino was trying to reach grenades to blow the whole truck up, and I looked into Logan’s eyes and saw at once the pain that he felt and the determination to suppress it and the fear of losing himself to the pain.

That moment for me was stronger than when he was burying Charles, or when Logan died and Laura was crying “daddy daddy”.

Oops spoilers.

I am always sooo attracted to these random people that I meet in my life. People who look strong, people who are female but are very masculine, people who are male but quite feminine, intelligent people who enjoy talking about cumbersome topics, people who enjoy doing multiple things, people who are quiet but have noisy noisy heads.

And between us is the gap of socially-acceptable norms which I don’t know how to negotiate that well. Its much clearer if we have work to do or if we’re walking towards the same goal, but if there is no explicit necessity for any kind of relationship, it feels weird to maintain a bond. For the sake of… because I like you!

There are people like that that I want to dig up from my past. But it takes so much courage I don’t even know if I want to go there.

And these thoughts… they manifest and grow and stick inside my head. One little teeny tiny thing can grow to such an unbelievable size, obsession that it scares me! I scare myself.

Then I remember the multiverse. The simultaneous stories, the narratives that I am forgetting about. And for that moment I can stop obsessing over one storyline.

Enchantment

…the contemporary world retains the power to enchant humans and that humans can cultivate themselves so as to experience more of that effect. Enchantment is something that we encounter, that hits us, but it is also a comportment that can be fostered through deliberate strategies. One of those strategies might be to give greater expression to the sense of play, another to hone sensory receptivity to the marvelous specificity of things. Yet another way to enhance the enchantment effect is to resist the story of the disenchantment of modernity.

You notice new colors, discern details previously ignored, hear extraordinary sounds, as familiar landscapes of sense sharpen and intensify. The world comes alive as a collection of singularities. Enchantment includes, then, a condition of exhilaration or acute sensory activity. To be simultaneously transfixed in wonder and transported by sense, to be both caught up and carried away—enchantment is marked by this odd combination of somatic effects.

These acts fall into the shadow of your rushing, indignant body. You note them—they are within the purview of your experience—but you pass them by. But if you were to gather up these dark, discarded scraps and peer into them, you would be on a different path, the path of a Kafkan tale.

The disenchantment tale figures nonhuman nature as more or less inert “matter”; it construes the modern West as a radical break from other cultures; and it depicts the modern self as predisposed toward rationalism, skepticism, and the problem of meaninglessness.

To be enchanted, then, is to participate in a momentarily immobilizing encounter; it is to be transfixed, spellbound.

My counterstory seeks to induce an experience of the contemporary world—a world of inequity, racism, pollution, poverty, violence of all kinds—as also enchanted—not a tale of reenchantment but one that calls attention to magical sites already here. Not magical in the sense of “a set of rituals for summoning up supernatural powers within a coherent cosmology,” but in the sense of cultural practices that mark “the marvelous erupting amid the everyday.”

Sometimes this wariness of joy is expressed as the charge of elitism— that is, only effete intellectuals have the luxury of feeling enchanted, whereas real people must cope with the real world. It surely is the case that hunger and other serious deprivations are incompatible with wonder. But the claim that the capacity for wonder is restricted to the rich, learned, and leisured, or that it finds its most vibrant expression there, is more confidently asserted than established. Even if it were true, all the more reason for privileged intellectuals to develop that capacity. For, if enchantment can foster an ethically laudable generosity of spirit, then the cultivation of an eye for the wonderful becomes something like an academic duty.

The charge of naive optimism is more probing. It raises the question of the link between enchantment and mindlessness, between joy and forgetfulness. In the chapters that follow, I do not deny such a link or its dangers, but I also argue that, in small, controlled doses, a certain forgetfulness is ethically indispensable.

Enchantment, as I use the term, is an uneasy combination of artifice and spontaneity.

I think that both those who celebrate disenchantment and those who lament it remain too governed by a single model of enchantment. My quasi-pagan model of enchantment pushes against a powerful and versatile Western tradition (in the disciplines of history, philosophy, and literature) that make enchantment depend on a divine creator, Providence, or, at the very least, a physical world with some original connection to a divine will. But what is at stake in such a retelling? The answer for me has to do with the effect—always indirect—that a cultural narrative has on the ethical sensibility of its bearers.

Affective fascination with a world thought to be worthy of it may help to ward off the existential resentment that plagues mortals, that is, the sense of victimization that recurrently descends upon the tragic (or absurd or incomplete) beings called human.

Jane Bennett: The Enchantment of Modern Life (2001)

看了我一年前寫的東西
然後再看去年年底寫的

有時候真的會嚇到自己
原來自己是多麼的醒目
原來自己是多麼的清醒

我一直都相信我有兩種很不一樣的性格
但有時候望著鏡子 看到另一個我
還是會感到意外

我一直都好怕做後備
我並不是一個特別好勝的人
為了我身邊的人 我很願意放下在手裡的東西
很願意給別人

就算不是很願意 我也能說服自己
這不重要 重要的是他們的快樂

我這不是善良 不是無私
我只是把自己的快樂放在其他人身上

這是個很愚蠢的做法
但我從以前就是這樣

當然不至於會被利用的程度
但我很少會對任何事情固執

但我真的好怕做後備
若愛,請深愛。若棄,請徹底。
我就是這樣的
有深愛 有捨棄

以前更加嚴重添

我自己的不自信就會更加令我胡思亂想
老覺得人家放不下
老覺得我很容易被代替
對普通朋友我就算了
但對家人,深愛的人,最好的朋友
我不行

這就是我活著的價值啊
我不求成功 不求發財
只求被需要 被愛

很久了呀。。。
哈哈
“看透這個世界了”

好可愛啊

我不是看透
我只是接受了

要被愛 被呵護 被疼惜
要失望 受傷害 被刺激
要得到 要失去
儘管來吧

有祂我就夠了

希望有天我會真心相信這句話 哈哈

我還是有希望的噢
世界不只是黑暗的

香港人,別太悲觀啦
無聊的樂觀也許會帶給你無聊的快樂呢

她說:
我很累呢 雖然知道我一定能應付一切
嘿 親愛的 我愛你

她有一個她非常愛的男人
對她非常好
但不知道怎麼對自己好

年輕人啊 那個年紀 覺得一點點事就艱難了
做什麼都很快放棄 還覺得自己會放下 很聰明
堅持對他們來說是個很大的成就
所以他們總覺得生命好辛苦 活著好辛苦

人的腦子很厲害的 讓你覺得很多東西很真很刻苦
其實幾年之後 你回頭看 也不過是個回憶
是當你正在感觸很深的時候做的舉動和反應 改變了你原本在走的路
那一刻 就有了意義

她說:
我很怕
我很怕失去 我很怕控制不了

就算知道我能控制的東西太少太少了
就算知道『怕』沒什麼用
但心和腦子卻隔了一世
到了最緊要的關頭 它們總是走反方向

很心疼呢
還有點後悔呢
但又如何呢

失去了
得到的
誰決定值不值得呢
值得又如何
不值得又如何

睇化左 真的嗎?
還是純粹放棄了
還是無敵懶
哈哈

為了愛情犧牲了友情
為了友情犧牲了愛情
愛情和友情的矛盾 很大嗎?

她愛的男人
她愛的女人
愛了又如何
開心了
心印了

有多少個一生一世
真的會一生一世呢

還好有家人
my family is my biggest comfort.

對不起呀
你是個很好的人
我真的好想和你做更好的朋友
但總覺得我在的時候 氣氛就不太輕鬆
覺得有我在 就不好玩了

全職
你是我的全職
我可能隨時被更換的
隨時被炒的
因為那麼難得遇到一個我真正喜歡的全職
所以更害怕失去

自由一定是美好的嗎

我真的好希望可以快些離開你
但這樣的人 到處都有

你覺得我不會有這種誘惑嗎?
我當然也想撇下什麼都不管
但我不能
我能在這間學校讀書是一件非常難得的事情
有很多人非常支持我
非常幫我

我已經很墮落了
我不能再辜負其他人了

我要爭氣

但我真的好累

到幾時
我才能好好哭一場
我才能什麼都不管好好睡一覺
我才能什麼都不用想所有事情都安排好

都說了
無敵懶

你怎麼了?
說出來吧
世界簡單些會比較美好的
別再讓人猜測了
毫無意義
浪費時間

收拾你的情緒
move on
安靜
用多些腦子
收拾你的心
吃少些
擔心少些
來了四年
老了十年

There is a sad place in my heart. Its a dusty dank corner with water dripping from the ceiling, and filled with a fog that you can barely see through.

Its not a place that I visit often, but occasionally that corner sucks me in. Sometimes its when I see someone, sometimes its when I have a bad performance, sometimes its when someone hurts my feelings. But most of the time, its when I am scared and worried.

Scared and worried about what will happen. Scared and worried of what others think of me. Scared and worried that I will lose close ones.

I hate that corner.

It takes so much energy to get myself out of there.

And then I see those around me that are happy to sit there and wallow. They believe they cannot do anything to escape. No one can help them through the blinding fog.

Why

Why do we chase after buildings and cars

Why do we chase after stability

Why do we chase after control and ownership

when we bring nothing with us into our graves

when our children would learn more with having less

when our envy comes from seeing other material possessions

Is conscience innate?

Is evil natural?

Did darkness come from where God came?

Did God create sin?

Why is there such beauty and such awfulness

Do opposites have to exist in order for us to understand anything?

Why does love make us all silly

Why does loss hurt so much

This powerlessness is scary.

This childish feeling of loneliness in the face of things that are within my control, within my understanding.

Its boredom isn’t it?

Cold air wraps around my exposed skin, pulling at my toes, my neck, my ankles.
I am waiting for something that I know will not come now.

There are books lying, closed, beside my arm. They will not be opened tonight.
I wait for sleep to come, at eleven. Somehow I have made it this far, doing nothing.

It is not silence, not a vacuum, not sadness.
It is a buzzing in the ears, a ringing in the ears, a humming in the heart, counting the blinks that happen, feeling the blinks, the sensation in and around my eyelids.
It is a slight frown in between the eyebrows, barely there, barely visible.
Its tight. The heart, the face, the frown, the skin, the muscles, the breath.

Do something for the sake of doing. To move, to be purposeful, in a life that will end in stillness, bringing nothing with it into wherever.

What is purposeful, meaningful, to whom?

Why did God put me here, not in London, not away from the rest of the people, but in time? In such long, dragged-out time?

How will this emotion that I do not know how to describe yet transform me?

This slight frown, slight quickening of breath, heightening of senses, numbness in the head?

Will it transform me? Is this a lesson on purposelessness/purpose? There is no purpose which is not given by humans. A journey that has an end has value because it is shared with others so one can experience more than one journey in one journey’s time? If it is not shared does it have value? If something has value, that value is our reasoning for taking that journey?

mmmmm…..

It hums, the space and time around me, in me, through me, around me.