Contemporary dance often has the unfortunate association with descriptors like ‘enigmatic’ and ‘abstract’, and too easily, one fears walking out of the theatre having understood nothing but beautiful movements and choreography.
Not so for The Royal Dance-Off Company (TRDOco). Under artistic director Ryan Tan, the company’s 2018 annual production has started off the year’s dance calendar on an incredibly hopeful note, having found a way to effectively meld both artistry and accessibility to create a fantastic beast of a show.
Titled We, The Singaporeans, TRDOco’s annual production zooms in on the image of the chair, a surprisingly relatable and relevant structure to all Singaporeans. From attempting to ‘chope’ seats with tissue paper to staring down commuters who dare use the reserved seating, We The Singaporeans deftly touches on these issues while delivering sharp choreography that pushes its dancers to their physical limits, at once reflecting on and laughing at our countrymen’s strange idiosyncrasies, and pushing for us to grow as a nation, learning to live with one another in spite of our different perspectives.
We, The Singaporeans even managed to tackle the somewhat hackneyed theme of social media addiction and obsession with a fresh take, with Nikki Chan, Beryl Tay, Clarice Ng and Joelynn Yeow coming together to compete for a seat based on each other’s online popularity. Utilizing a smart, unique soundtrack that blended classic, contemporary and pop music with the all too familiar pings, rings and alerts of a phone, the four girls committed entirely to their characters’ competitive spirit, making even actions like posing for photos look far more elegant as they stretched out their bodies and moved from one position to another. Each girl was given their own ‘solo’ during this segment, and was visually exciting use of Ryan’s jazz and contemporary background, well executed by each performer and with impeccably rehearsed snap movements that synchronised with every ping and snap on the backing track, always maintaining the high energy and intensity required of the piece.
We The Singaporeans plays at the Esplanade Theatre Studio till 13th January. Tickets are sold out.