>THE NEW ADVENTURES OF LITTLE PRINCE by Dance Dimension Project

>reviewed by marcus tan

>date: 2 dec 2000
>time: 8pm
>venue: the drama centre
>rating: ***

>tired already? go home then
>review junkie? whitney, give them this click to sniff

                           
>look, we know that you need to know that we, as responsible reviewers, have some quantifiable categories to rate productions, and are not just relying on some undefinable instinct or gut feeling. So to put your mind at ease, we will give you a logical rating system based on the practitioner's vision / and the reviewer's response of a particular production. Here it is then: ***** : Transcendent / Rapturous. ****: Crystal / Appreciative. ***: Transmitted / Thoughtful. **:Vague / Unsatisfied. * : Uncommunicated / Mystified. Yet in the end, you will feel that this is (1) a cheap attempt to justify the subjective arbitrariness of our rating system (2) buttressed by an interest in the logical (and inevitable) categorisation of such productions, which is (3) undermined by the cheapness of the attempt, and (4) confused by the creeping feeling you are getting that we are dead serious in our feeling that this rating system is an accurate description of the content, intent and quality of the production. Oh please -- does it even matter now? Look, at least we tried.
 

>>>>>NEW & (RE)NEW(ED) ADVENTURES

Antoine De Saint-Exupery's 'The Little Prince' is perhaps among the world's most widely read books. The length of the book (a mere two-hour read) certainly contrasts with the significant issues it evokes which leave an acute reader in a prolonged ponder.

To adapt the narrative of this near "epic" fable is no easy task for it requires much interpretation and re-investigation. To evoke and portray the book's fundamental thematic message of differing viewpoints is an even harder task. Dance Dimension Project's re-titling of Saint-Exupery's acclaimed book as THE NEW ADVENTURES demonstrates a self-awareness of the dislocations found in adapting and transforming the text into a dance form.

>>'A delightful adaptation that is visually enticing but it certainly does not illuminate one who has not read 'The Little Prince,''

Dance is, as one of DDP's project dancers, Monique Pillet, notes, "a form of expression beyond words. It is something that requires the mind, heart, soul and body to interact with the environment with a purpose." Understanding dance certainly requires some knowledge of it as a unique language that communicates as well as any other. THE NEW ADVENTURES OF LITTLE PRINCE can thus be appraised as a daring attempt to translate one narrative form into another - one situated in the body and its movements.

Employing not merely dance but ingeniously incorporating other modern art forms found in theatre such as multimedia video presentations, computer animation and installation art accompanied by music (sounds that border on both melody and noise), the performance attempted to relate the core of 'The Little Prince' without trying to be fundamentally authentic to the original text. The extra 'space' created, resultant from this interpretation and adaptation (and fusion of other art forms), permitted the dancers to freely express 'words' through movement and expression while engaging the audience's emotions.

Although the performance managed to communicate various parts of the original narrative, identifiable by the significant occurrences found in the book such as the pilot-narrator's crash, the little prince's care for his flower and his unique friendship with a fox, DDP's adaptation failed to evoke the thematic concerns that make Saint-Exupery's novella such a favourite. Perhaps this is an unavoidable 'loss' in any translation; here, it is a translation that is removed from language. In addition, the interactions between characters lacked a dramatic dimensionality essential in portraying relations.

The performance, however, should be credited for its incorporation of child dancers. The effort and long hours of preparing these 10 year olds (or thereabouts) proved worthwhile as the children delighted the audience with their presence. The little prince, played by young dancer Jordan Lee, certainly evoked the innocence of the novella's protagonist just by being himself. It is, after all, a 'children's' fable that was to awaken the child in the adult.

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF LITTLE PRINCE is a delightful adaptation that is visually enticing but it certainly does not illuminate one who has not read 'The Little Prince,' much less the countless children in the audience.