In the midst of the evolving Covid-19 pandemic that might change the arts landscape forever, the performing arts must go on. After several months of experimenting and learning, T.H.E Dance Company will be presenting #THEGOESONLINE: Being Virtually Present 数码舞人登陆 : 似乎存在, where, from October to December 2020, T.H.E will be sharing the Company’s works-in-progress and artistic research.
Artistic Director Kuik Swee Boon shares: “As a performing arts company, we hope to create and share digital programmes that retain, as much as possible, the irreplaceable characteristics of live performances. We aspire to capture the “live”, “in-the-moment” quality of performances in these programmes and our aim to preserve the integrity of audience participation and the live audience experience further drives us to continue pushing the limitations and boundaries of time, space and media.”
Dimo Kirilov Milev and Jos Baker
The dynamic work-in-progress showcases include two international collaborations led by Dimo Kirilov Milev and Jos Baker. A first for the company, transcending physical boundaries and time zones, Milev and Baker have each been working on their own all-new creation with the dance artists of T.H.E Main Company virtually through Zoom, an experience that inevitably influences the working-concepts of their creations, Desidium (Milev) and Contactless (Baker).
“This is my first time creating a work virtually and it is a compelling learning experience in itself. Communicating my choreography to the dancers online is very different from working with them in real life. Conveying emotions and timing for instance, does not come as naturally through a screen that feels less personal. Nevertheless, technology is a great tool in this situation for us to continue working and creating,” Milev says about his experience.
Fiona Thng, a dance artist at T.H.E Dance Company also shares her thoughts on this novel artistic working experience: “While the physical presence of the choreographers can never be compared to a virtual experience, the digital lifestyle made this creation possible and it was energising that the dedication and energy of the choreographers could be felt through the screen.”
Emerging choreographers and dance artists from T.H.E Second Company, the Company’s youth talent cultivation wing, will also present the first phase of a two-year incubation of liTHE (2020-2021) this year. This edition will feature the works of Zunnur Zhafirah, Nah Jieying, Klievert Mendoza and a collaborative creation by Goh Jia Yin and Maybelle Lek.
Finally, through #THEGOESONLINE, the Company will be filming its first full-length 360° VR production of PheNoumenon (2019) in October, in collaboration with immersive technology partner, Hiverlab. This will be Singapore’s first full-length VR dance production that will be made available to the public in December. By devising accurate environmental sounds and spatial characteristics, VR creates an artificial environment for the viewer to inhabit, metamorphosing the human experience of a live performance. This will be an electrifying and multi-sensory treat not-to-be-missed.
True to Kuik’s wishes to preserve the ‘live’ performance element in T.H.E Dance Company’s digital programmes, he explains: “Digitalisation has the potential to reach out to more audiences and bring more audiences back to theatres eventually. This was what led to our inquiry into the use of VR technology to close the distance between a performance and the audience. The intensive and exciting 360° Immersive VR experience is the first part of this plan to inspire audiences to catch the re-staging of PheNoumenon (2019) in live theatres in better times.”
Kuik adds: “The connection between humans and real life is more delicate than ever in such a time where digitalisation is accelerated. While art essentially allows us to interpret life in a myriad of different ways, digitalisation has transformed our interactions with reality and it can be a double-edged sword. We are normalising a different way of socialising, and how we consume and view images and sounds. We still do not know how people will interpret and react to this ‘new normal’. Nevertheless, we will work very hard and do our best to turn this crisis into an opportunity.”
#THEGOESONLINE: Being Virtually Present runs from September to December 2020. For more information, visit their website here