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Returning for the 13th edition for 13 days, the Esplanade’s annual da:ns festival invites audiences to once again fall in love with dance from 9th – 21st October 2018. As with previous editions, an entire programme of 80 workshops and masterclasses, as well as more than 82 free events.have been curated to showcase the entire spectrum of dance, as audiences free up their mind, have their spirits lifted and their bodies moving.

This year, the festival will feature three newly-commissioned works by Singapore and Asian dancemakers—Kuik Swee Boon (Singapore), Daniel Kok (Singapore) and Rianto (Indonesia). Kuik Swee Boon’s Invisible Habitudes is the first full-length ticketed dance performance commissioned for Esplanade’s Outdoor Theatre, exploring the complications of finding one’s personal belief and identity. The work was developed using Kuik’s “hollow body”, improvisation-based approach that trains dancers to be all-rounded performers with the ability to convey the essence of their identity and lived experiences through the full spectrum of physical, emotional, philosophical and meaningful expression.


Daniel Kok partners with Miho Shimizu for xhe (pronounced like “j’y” in French), a rarely seen five-hour durational, multi-disciplinary performance that promises to stretch the artists artistically and physically as they move within a kaleidoscope of shifting patterns, moving objects and syncretic sounds. Meanwhile, Indonesian artist Rianto’s deeply personal solo work Medium, which draws on his traditional lengger (a traditional cross-gender dance from Central Java) training and contemporary dance vocabulary to combine folk ritual, traditional and contemporary dance, in dialogue with powerful live Javanese vocals and percussion.


All three works are presented as part of the Shift programme, aiming to realign audience’s notions of dance, and includes one final piece in the form of Belgian choreographer Lisbeth Gruwez for AH | HA, who made her da:ns debut in 2013. Through AH | HA, Gruwez explores the idea of laughter, deconstructing how this ecstatic laughing body can be controlled yet spastic, beautiful yet monstrous, connected yet isolated.


The festival will also present a line-up featuring works by acclaimed international companies and artists including Akram Khan Company (UK), Nederlands Dans Theater 1 (The Netherlands). Akram Khan Company will present Until the Lions, a work inspired by the female characters from poet Karthika Naïr’s book Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, an original reworking of the 2,500-year-old Indian epic, coming full circle after first performed in the late British Peter Brooks’ iconic adaptation of the story as a 13-year-old.

Until the Lions

Meanwhile, Nederlands Dans Theater 1 will be presenting a mixed bill of four pieces that promise technically brilliant and choreographically slick work that will enchant audience members both familiar and new to the contemporary dance form, with pieces by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot and Marco Goecke.

Nederlands Dans Theater 1

Ballet lovers should look forward to International Stars of Ballet, where audiences will be entreated to internationally-acclaimed dancers from the world’s leading ballet companies, each set performing famous duets from ballet classics and by iconic contemporary choreographers. Dancers who will be featured include Adiarys Almeida, Igor Kolb, Maria Kochetkova, Oksana Bondareva, Piotr Stanczyk, Sebastian Kloborg, Svetlana Lunkina, Taras Domitro, who have danced with acclaimed companies ranging from the Bolshoi Ballet to the Boston Ballet.

International Stars of Ballet

The Esplanade will also be providing opportunities for young artists and to introduce younger audiences to the arts, with its Next Generation platform, presenting Swiss artist Joshua Monten’s Joy, a work aimed at young audiences aged 10 and above. Meanwhile, local institutions LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) will present Cipher/Decipher and The Third Space respectively. The festival will also be presenting the Sixteen da:ns Challenge platform, giving thirty selected local dancers an opportunity to undergo an intensive 16-hour mentorship with international street dance stars. Finally, over at the Esplanade Concourse and Outdoor Theatre. the Esplanade will showcase Rasas, a free programme of traditional dances from the region.


This October, get up from your seat and get moving with the Esplanade’s annual da:ns festival, as these international and regional acts and activities come together, and have audiences fully embracing the spirit of movement.

Photos Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

The 2018 da:ns Festival runs from 9th – 21st October at various locations around the Esplanade. For the full listings, check out the website here

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