>september september by tammy l. wong dance company

>reviewed by ma shaoling

>date: 28 sep 2001
>time: 8pm
>venue: singapore chinese girls school khoo auditorium
>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.


This seems to be a month marked by heaviness, and into this, the tammy l. wong dance company breathes life. Never imperious, never overbearing. They know their dance and that is enough.

For this season, the company brought back 'That Place, Those People', choreographed by Sean Curran, Bessie award winning dancer/choreographer. They also presented three Singapore premieres titled 'Folk Song', 'Goodbye, Goodbye' and 'Alone'. Together with acclaimed pianist Shane Thio, the company showed tremendous cohesion over the varying themes of the four pieces.

'Folk Song', as the title suggests, opened the night with a light-hearted celebration of movement and friendship. Fuelled by the energies of several young dancers, some as young as eight, this dance delighted the audience as we were reminded of how infectious folk music can actually be. As a patchwork of several movements, each piece shared a pulsating rhythm, whether when all dancers moved around in a circle, or when pas de deux and solos varied through the dance. Transitions were smooth and the occasional slow numbers provided a different flavour to the overall atmosphere. It is always difficult to work with a big group of dancers, and despite some problems with timing, it did little harm to Folk Song's genuine cheerfulness.

>>'Never imperious, never overbearing. They know their dance and that is enough.'

It is always interesting to watch a restaging of a dance company's works. 'That Place, Those People' is one of those pieces that never loses its sharpness despite the dancers' familiarity with the choreography. 21 year old Melissa Quek, who is now taking a year off from her dance education in New York College, shared the stage with Tammy and Elaine. If dance is a form of statement, then this is certainly a conversation both sensitive and inspiring. Elaine and Melissa's pas de deux was performed with effortless lifts coupled with soft communicative touches. This dance continued to stir emotions till the end, with Tammy standing in the light of the stage, rendering gestures that Shane's excellent piano playing complemented.

The third dance 'Goodbye, Goodbye' premiered at the 2001 American Dance Festival, 2001 New York International Fringe Festival, for which Tammy had to stay in New York for 3 months. As a tribute to dancer Lee Yeong Wen, it is not only dynamically choreographed, but also very meaningfully performed. Elaine and Tammy's seamless partnership could not be better demonstrated than it was here, for this proved to be not just a technically demanding piece, but even more so founded on their ability to co-operate with each other on an emotional level. On a stage strewn with flowers, their pas de deux revealed a spectrum of passions, ranging from anguish to love. There was a lot of pulling and pushing, and jumps that were initiated with the lightest support from both dancers. Danced to the music of Ravel, this was a heart-felt piece that inspired both melancholy and hope.

'Alone' brings the performance to an end by opening up provoking reflections. Tammy choreographed and performed this last piece by herself, surrounded with trampled petals from the previous dance and lighted candles. Dressed in fairy-like skin-coloured leotard and tutu, Tammy stepped lightly around the periphery of the circle with her usual perceptive understanding of musicality. Unsurprisingly affected by the recent tragedy in New York, 'Alone' was a piece of art beautifully appreciated for its thoughtfulness. As Tammy slowly lay across the petals, her body spread out across a threshold that formed the circle; it seemed to be implied that differences in our world should always be bridged and not cause discrimination.

All in all, September is a month to remember. For good and bad things, destruction and creation. Some of us can start to forgive, and for the tammy l. wong dance company, they chose to dance to forget.