>LOOK-SEE @ THE FISH IN THE FLOWER by Dance Dimension Project

>reviewed by Lee Yew Leong

>date: 15 may 1999
>time: 8pm
>venue: the jubilee hall
>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.


Ever wondered what you would do if you were a fish in a tank? Or if you are and that you just don't know it yet? What validates your experience as a human being? Is it what you see, hear, taste, smell and feel? And above all, have you made the most out of these sensory experiences?
Indeed these are remarkable questions for a dance to pose. The aplomb with which this theme of experience is handled in LOOK-SEE @ THE FISH IN THE FLOWER therefore deservedly marks the accomplishment of an avant-garde performance full of symbols and cinnamon rolls.

That said, this creative production by Dance Dimension Project (DDP) may have promised a titillating feast of senses (it's well-designed programme insists that while watching, the "audience can also experience more from sight, hearing, smelling, touch") but other than a faint whiff of cinnamon rolls -- those looking for giveaways will be sorely disappointed -- the only other sensation which I didn't expect to experience in a theatre, which I experienced, was the revolting taste of my eye-drop medication (which I applied prior to the dance) settling in at the back of my throat.

>>'DDP is a talented group but it could do with some final professional touches'

But perhaps it was about the synaesthetic experience. If so, yes, I did sit through it feeling overwhelmed because the dance was a veritable parade of symbols, symbols of the different sensory experiences: the lemon, the cinnamon roll, the flower, the candle, and symbols of the senses themselves: the very literal eye as well as the ladder (by which one reaches out for). Come to think of it, the whole thing made a lot of sense. Perhaps, by the end, too much sense, because the whole stage was cluttered with symbols and it made for a very confusing spectacle -- even the choreography became somewhat absurdist. Although it was very likely the dance's intention to evoke by way of metaphor, this wondrously multi-faceted and overwhelming world we live in, the last scene seemed to have sprawled out of control and into the realm of absurdism. Given that the play was almost founded on symbolism I felt that it was a stretch for it to end this way.

Final movement apart, the first and second movements were well-choreographed. The second movement especially, featuring the three talented female dancers in the 'fish' segment of the dance, impressed me with its graceful evocation of fish in their environment: fish at play, fish teasing fish and finally fish discovering an eye on their world. (The eye symbol was interestingly deployed in this dance. It also stood for the ego, the 'I' that is a result of what one perceives).

DDP is a talented group but it could do with some final professional touches. I'm not talking about the glitches that were attributed to the power failure which resulted in some bewilderment both among the audience and the dancers during the closure of the first movement. I'm not talking about the set which though minimal, was effective. I'm definitely not talking about the inclusion of the three little girls who added a much-welcomed vivacity to the production. I'm talking about the sound quality, which for some reason, made the whole thing feel bootlegged. And I'm not sure why this bothers me so much: there was this one scene where the two female dancers were sitting down, evidently at a picnic. Everything was purposely slow and deliberate from the action of pouring tea, to eating crackers (nice surreal touch, I thought) but when one dancer threw a plum to the other, the slow-motion effect was all ruined because free-falling plums obey the law of gravity. Since they were sitting so close together anyway, why not just hand the plum over? This is a minor detail but it gives a lot away.

All in all though, it was an enjoyable and refreshing experience watching this dance: one brings home lots of thoughts. I kept having to check myself from writing 'play' instead of 'dance' in the course of writing this review and that I think is already a measure of how thought-provoking and therefore successful this performance was. Keep an eye on DDP, that's what I say.