O School collaborates with the French Embassy on the fusion of street and contemporary dance as part of the VOILAH! French Festival.
Contributed By Joshua Lok
If music is what feelings sound like, dance must be what they look like. In a collaboration with the National Arts Council, the French Embassy and Singaporean performing arts center O School, audiences who attended the Urban Dance Tales held at School Of The Arts on Dec. 10 were treated to an evening of poetry in motion.
Part of the VOILAH! French Festival which took place from Nov. 25 to Dec. 15, Urban Dance Tales aimed to create meeting points between the street and contemporary dance scenes in Singapore. Three pieces of work were performed by the O School ensemble O Crew and non-profit group T.H.E. Dance Company.
The first dance, Reflections, choreographed by the O Crew, was a celebratory piece that sought to illustrate dance as a spark, which, when shone on a mirror, becomes reflective and glowing. As the synopses of the dance describes, “A spark spreads, energizes and inspires,” so did the piece, which stirred the hearts of those in the audience to aim for the stars.
The second piece As it Fades, performed by T.H.E. Dance Company, was a dramatic piece featuring the different aspects of human reaction using nuances of body language, portraying feelings that are not easily expressed by words. The use of subtle, graceful moves and high-energy bursts of runs and leaps made for vivid physical embodiments of fear, anxiety and joy.
The last piece, Listen, a debut piece by French-Laotian choreographer Olé Kamchanla, combined hip-hop, traditional and contemporary dance to deliver an exploration of urban life. Portraying a street dancer trying to fit into the world of contemporary dance, Listen played on each dancer’s unique set of life experience and technical skills, driving home the question of the performance—how well are we listening to each other?
The performance ended with a dialogue session between the choreographers and the audience. Swee Boon Kuik, founder of TDC and Kamachanla both shared about how ballet and hip-hop, in addition to sub-genres such as break, lock and pop formed the inspiration and ideologies for their dance pieces.
“We dance to express our minds, cultures, societies, aspirations and contemporary times. We show others the passion and love in our dance. Ultimately, our students are the key motivators and inspirations to our work,” said Swee.
Asked about the most important piece of advice he could give aspiring dancers, Swee shared, “Always have determination and passion, never give up and keep believing in yourself. It’s really 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration.”