T.H.E Dance Company’s annual M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival may be unable to put up live performances for now, but that certainly hasn’t stopped them from innovating and finding new ways to present programme. From classes and workshops to conversations and dialogues, the festival continues to exist in digital form for all to appreciate the art of contemporary dance.
One of their new programmes is Purⓔ《纯ⓔ》: An Experimental Virtual Performance. Held over Zoom, the new work explores concepts of communication as the basis of coexistence between two or more beings. During the performance, not only will there be dance, but other elements such as original music composition and live visual editing. Choreographed and directed by Festival Director and Artistic Director of T.H.E Dance Company, Kuik Swee Boon, Purⓔ《纯ⓔ》 is inspired partly by Pure, a performance that premiered at the 2016 M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival.
Purⓔ《纯ⓔ》 also marks the Festival’s and T.H.E Dance Company’s first foray into online performances. Says Swee Boon: “Putting together a live performance online is a brand new challenge in itself. We had to adapt very quickly as a company, learning digital tools and technology that are completely new to us, rehearsing and choreographing a work online. The real-time experience of a live webinar gives us space to interact directly with the audiences in the performance, yet, the online experience can never replace the experience of a live performance. Still, given the current circumstances, it supplements what we do. I don’t intend to resist it. I want to familiarise myself with it to understand its advantages and disadvantages. We are terming this an experimental performance because I strongly believe in giving ourselves more time for research and room for mistakes and exploration while growing our resources in order to do better as we digitalise.”
Anthea Seah, who will be performing the duet alongside Brandon Khoo, contemplates her experience: “I’ve done Pure in changing environments (at different performance venues) and with changing dance partners. This is yet another look at existing with myself and another. In some ways it feels more intimate to me as I’m in my own familiar space, at the same time the aspect of connecting to Brandon and sharing the self with others feels a lot more distanced through the screen. This juxtaposition has been quite interesting to me, surfacing questions relating to performativity and revisiting experiences.”
Purⓔ《纯ⓔ》is a part of M1 CONTACT Rewired 2020, featuring two other free online programmes, Thinking Afoot (19th and 20th June) and Crossing into Inclusive Dance: Dialogue with The Farm (27th June). Thinking Afoot was a work-in-progress sharing by T.H.E Company Dance Artist Nah Jieying, with independent dance artists Adele Goh and Kwon Hyuk (South Korea), exploring what it takes to make a dance piece. Meanwhile, tn Crossing into Inclusive Dance, Gavin Webber, Kayah Guenther, a young man with Down Syndrome, and his mother Leanne Guenther from Australia discuss inclusivity in dance through their insider’s perspective in creating and touring The Crossing, originally programmed as a family-friendly public showcase for Dance at Dusk this year.
With all these programmes, plus a slew of classes and workshops to participate in, not even a pandemic can stop T.H.E from sharing the power of contemporary dance online. Whether you’re a fan of contemporary dance or clueless when it comes to the form, M1 CONTACT powers on, and delivers the festival to you from the comfort of home.