>floating mirror by ecnad project

>reviewed by chan kah mei

>date: 24 aug 2001
>time: 8pm
>venue: victoria theatre
>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.


FLOATING MIRROR reflected a metamorphosis in completion for Ecnad Project, the former Dance Dimension Project. This was their inaugural performance since graduating to the ranks of "public company limited by guarantee" in March this year, aided by the National Arts Council Seed Grant.

This meant a larger stage space at the Victoria Theatre instead of the Substation or shopping centre fountains; it also meant having the event graced by Minister for Information and the Arts Mr Lee Yock Suan and a more well-heeled, international audience.

Despite the change in stature for the pioneer in contemporary dance theatre, it remained close to its principles - minimalist but provocative set ups, opportune use of multimedia, seamless sequences, and not forgetting their trademark water element.

>>'I never thought a hippo could look that good on gauze.'

Scene One. Choreographer Lim Chin Huat literally enacts the circumstances under which Floating Mirror was conceived - in the shower. While musing the meaninglessness of urban life he was visited by a tearful hippopotamus. I never thought a hippo could look that good on gauze.

I could not make a distinction between the rest of the scenes, however, certain extracts stood out - a beautiful duet by the two artistic co-directors (albeit being a tad lengthy) depicting a dreamlike state. I was particularly amused by what resembled a head banging sequence, used to signify an unleashing of frustration.

Interspersed in between these were urbanites in various modes of work. I sensed a move away from solo performances by Ecnad's originators and that reflected the maturity of the group. The quintet of Choo Leh Leh, Kon Su Sam, Monique Pillet, Wong Sok Eng and Lim Peck Lee put up a commendable performance, executing more complex movements with greater precision and dexterity.

Yet this rebirth of Ecnad marked only a change in form and not in direction. It needs to move away from the overused themes of memory and desire, barrenness of the urban landscape to perhaps more original ideas. Technique-wise, though the performance is definitely smoother, it seemed to be falling into the trap of set movements. One can almost identify the "hugs", spasms and throws seen in numerous contemporary groups both locally and overseas. I remembered DDP having a more raw and individualistic feel but perhaps this is the result of growing up.

Nevertheless, I applaud Ecnad's foray into contemporary performances and its vision for grooming new talent. The group has also been invited to perform FLOATING MIRROR at the Belgrade International Theatre Festival in Yugoslavia, renowned for its presentation of experimental performing arts later this year in September.