Preview: X & Y by RAW Moves

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Growing up in Singapore, there’s always been this undeniable source of pressure all around us, whether from parents or peers, to prove yourself worthy by coming out on top and beating out any and all rivals. Now, that sense of ‘kiasu-ism’ has become fashionable itself, as a form of self-evaluation and both drives the endless rat race and act as a means of self-reflection.With a topic like that so close to our hearts, it only seems apt that RAW Moves has decided to tackle the concept of Competition in their 2018 season.

This April, they’re starting off with their very first show of the year. Titled X & Y, the movement piece spins off from the theme and features RAW Moves Artistic Director Ricky Sim and company dancer Matthew Goh as two unnamed characters (subjects X and Y) from different generations and background, inviting comparison and contrast. Experimental in form, the movement work comprises of five ‘episodes’ taken from discussions Ricky and Matthew had over the last three months about competition, as they attempted to better understand each other.Ricky rolls up his pants and expresses conservative attitudes, while Matthew seems free and unbridled, stretching his body freely. Ricky begins to vogue, referencing Madonna, while Matthew emulates Lady Gaga, representing identity forged through the music choices between generations.

X & Y by Ricky Sim 1 (Photo Credit RAW Movesl)

Ricky explains: “In X & Y, you see two creatures coming together, and it’s about taking a look at how they live their life, the way they communicate, the way they express themselves through the pop music of the time, and how they work together, unfolding their way of life layer by layer. Music, in particular, is a way of defining and distinguishing ourselves and our preferences, and a means of understanding where we stand and our own perceptions of ourselves.”

He elaborates:  “My wish is not for audiences to just look at it as differences in generation. It is intentional we came up with the same outfit, and you’ll even see us having the same haircut later on. All of us are encompassed in the same presentation and packaging, Besides generational differences, we could also see it as algebraic terms, where X and Y could represent the potential to mean so many other things.”

X & Y by Ricky Sim 2 (Photo Credit RAW Movesl)

Dressed in similar attire, both Ricky and Matthew will be donning cutout face masks depicting each other’s faces. Says Ricky: “For the masks, they don’t even have any holes so we can’t see ourselves or the world around us. It’s a comment about how we’re all constantly wearing ‘masks’ of ourselves and others in our daily lives based on different situations. Sometimes, we don’t even realize it because we do it daily. Even when Matthew is wearing his own mask, he can’t see himself. Are we really still being ourselves, or have we become become hermits living in our own world?”

He continues: “It’s possible to see the work as a conflict between Generation X and Y, but at the same time, explore how society has groomed us to behave in certain ways. In a way, both of us are living the same lives, just that we’re born in different time periods and categorised differently. 

Ricky concludes: “We may be playing subject X and Y, but we’re not really pointing fingers at who’s better. We all encompass the same presentation and packaging, and hopefully through X and Y, people learn to see the differences. Competition is not about who wins, but how it forces us as performers to evolve into a new creature and interact in new ways. I’m keeping the final message open, but hopefully audiences will be able to reflect on themselves through our characters and gain some kind of emotional response to it, delving deep into issues of the self and the links between each generation.”

Come attend X & Y this April, and see for yourself the journey RAW Moves will take you on as they explore how competition and different eras’ upbringings can affect mindsets to change the way we behave and shape the way we relate to each other, and we’re excited to see how this manifests itself in both this production and the rest of their 2018/19 season throughout the year.

Photo Credit: RAW Moves

X & Y plays at Aliwal Arts Centre from 11th – 13th April. Tickets available from Peatix

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