>TALKING DANCE SERIES: URBAN PORTRAITS by Dance Dimension Project

>reviewed by chan kah mei

>date: 30 jul 1999
>time: 8pm
>venue: the guinness theatre, the substation
>rating: ***1/2

>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.
 

>>>>>BE OPEN AND RECEIVE

"Come see and hear the Talking Dance Series" urged the posters from Dance Dimension Project's latest performance. And so I did. True to its title, we did a whole lot of yakkity yak.

This, I felt, was the epitome of post-modern dance whereby the process was more important than the end product itself. The performance actually marks the end of a series of interactive dance sessions. A fresh idea by guest choreographer Trina Eby, the series was meant to help the public understand dance through seeing and participating in the dance process. The team from Dance Dimension Project (DDP) roped in a motley crew of students, architects, designers, business executives, etc. to throw in their ideas.

>>'The dancers executed the moves with dexterity - swift slides one moment and pushing, pulling and rolling the next'

Basically, the idea behind Modern dance is to liberate. Instead of following a set of rigid and defined motions a la ballet, it draws inspiration from improvisation of body movements. The five dancers contorted and twisted their bodies under the direction of Eby's command to "move". These become the building blocks of the dance. The participants on the other hand had the fun bit- watching videos to pick out their favourite parts, moulding the dancer's bodies, criticising and even having a go at dancing.

The final product was Urban Portraits - a reflection of our sordid corporate society. The cozy Guinness Theatre was simply decorated with gleaming tins of turpentine. The dancers executed the moves with dexterity - swift slides one moment and pushing, pulling and rolling the next. As it was a multi-media art form, your senses were bombarded by the OHP and video clips together with original new age music by composer Earl Norman.

Despite its unpolished look, I still enjoyed how the piece expressed the angst of the working world as told through segments like 'Human Factory', 'The Corporate Ladder' and 'Photocopy'. It began with tense, wound-up 'workers' in tight metallic suits. Happily, though, there is hope in our pathetic corporate lives as these workers rediscover their colourful, buried selves (aided by reversible coloured outfits). Video images of budding trees and butterflies were juxtaposed with the former sterile tin landscape.

Those who missed out on the discussion sessions will not lose out too much. There is a short discussion with the dancers before and after the show where you can actually suggest changes to the dance.

Remember, this is modern dance. Be ready to throw out your staid ideas of romantic ballet. Be open. Watch your thoughts come to life. Understand dance for once. Come, see and hear the Talking Dance Series.