The Singapore Arts Festival 2011 pays tribute to talents and things of the past.
Contributed By Reuel Eugene Tay
Singapore’s annual premier arts event, organized by the National Arts Council, is the month-long Singapore Arts Festival. It kicks off this weekend with the theme of remembrance. I Want To Remember brings viewers down the road of memories, histories and places long forgotten, in an effort to understand how the past defines the way we look at the present.
As a form of remembering the past, a young generation of dancemakers pay tribute to three of the dance world’s greatest talents who passed away between 2009 and 2010—Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham and Kazuo Ohno. Their works form some of the biggest highlights of the festival.
In preparation for the Festival, the custom-made Festival Village at Esplanade Park was set up, forming the stage for the anticipated production When A Gray Taiwanese Cow Stretched. Events (both free and ticketed) include staged performances, engaging exhibitions, hands-on workshops and master classes. The Festival Village will also play host to the first ever Kids Art Village—curated, performed and managed by children.
This year’s lineup also promises arts lovers, creators and volunteers more interactive opportunities to participate instead of being mere consumers. City News picks four performances to make time for.
When A Gray Taiwanese Cow Stretched (May 13 to 17)
This event opener by Japanese writer/director Yukichi Matsumoto and award-winning company Ishinha is being performed outside their home country for the first time. The outdoor theatre show tells stories of travelers in “20th century visualization with a perspective of one standing on the earth.” Timed with accurate precision to capture the transition between day and night, sunset and dusk, this is a theater performance that guarantees to leave the spectator in awe.
Out Of Context—For Pina (May 14 to 15)
Celebrated Belgian director Alain Platel and his dance company les ballets C de la B bring Singapore audiences Out Of Context, a work that celebrates the highest form of dance by using the rawest, most essential tool—the human body. “Out Of Context becomes a kind of ritual, a gathering of people in search of an essence they can’t find, but in the meantime experiencing something unexpected but worthwhile,” describes Belgian dance critic Hildegard De Vuyst, the dramaturge for Out Of Context.
Kuu (Emptiness) (May 21 to 22)
Kuu is a Butoh dance created and performed by Yoshito Ohno, son of the late Kazuo Ohno who brought international prominence to Butoh. The art form refers to a wide range of techniques and activities involving “playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics and extreme or absurd environments,” often with slow, hyper-controlled motions. Kuu, which means emptiness, seeks to pay tribute to Yoshito’s father through themes of freedom and non-attachment.
Tempest: Without A Body (May 27 to 28)
Distantly reflecting elements from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this performance of Tempest: Without A Body sells itself as a bold production by Samoa-born choreographer Lemi Ponifasio and his company MAU. This part-dance, part-theatre, part-ceremony theatrical experience promises a powerful, visually ravishing and apocalyptic response to the sinister escalation of post-9/11 state powers and the erosion of individual freedoms.
The Singapore Arts Festival runs from May 13 to June 5 at various venues.
Log on to www.singaporeartsfest.com for more information. Tickets and program book available at SISTIC counters.