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Preview: liTHE 2021 by T.H.E Second Company

This September, T.H.E Second Company celebrates a milestone event, with the 10th anniversary of their annual liTHE programme at the Goodman Arts Centre (GAC) Black Box. As the semi-professional arm of T.H.E Dance Company, liTHE showcases the growth of these Second Company members as dance artists, and signifies T.H.E’s commitment to nurturing the development of these semi-professional dancers.

Since 2017, liTHE has become an incubation programme for young choreographers, where selected artists are given the opportunity to explore and develop their works on the Second Company over several editions of liTHE. This year’s liTHE will be the second and final year in the current two-year incubation programme, and will showcase new works from up-and-coming choreographers Nah Jieying, Goh Jia Yin and Maybelle Lek, and Klievert Jon Junia Mendoza.

Nah Jieying’s The Remains of Being examines contrasting ideas of holding on and letting go, and how going through such experiences strips a person down to their true self. The main company dance artist will be collaborating with her sister and semi-professional dance artist Nah Jiemin on set and costume.

When asked about her inspiration behind the work, Nah shared: “In flowers, I see its ability to be beautiful, its need to wilt and its tenacity to grow again. To me, this is my first image to start the research into how we deal with time, with needing to find meaning in what we have to do in our present moment.”

T.H.E Second Company members Goh Jia Yin and Maybelle Lek will continue where they left off in last year’s Re:Writing, and explore this notion of dualities in When Five Encounter. Outside of T.H.E Second Company, Goh and Lek have made significant influences in the local contemporary dance scene; Goh is an adjunct lecturer at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the Vice President of the World Dance Alliance Singapore Chapter, and Lek is a freelance movement artist, having recently presented a work at Sigma’s inaugural Kaleidoscope and a work-in-progress in collaboration with independent local dance artist Chua Pei Yun at Off Stage in this year’s M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival.

Says Lek: “We wanted to explore how duality can exist, and how we are currently living in the in-betweens. Even in our choreography, there are moments of tenderness, secrecy, unison, but there’s also tension when clashes happen.”

T.H.E Dance Company’s Klievert Jon Junia Mendoza celebrates human resilience through his piece titled Kawayan. Translating to “bamboo” in Tagalog, the work draws inspiration from the titular plant, where the movement-based choreography looks into how the human experience mirrors that of the bamboo, and how despite the many struggles it goes through, it still remains, standing strong, at the end of the day. Malaysian-based composer Kent Lee will be creating new music for this work.

In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the choreographers faced many new challenges when they were exploring and researching their ideas and concepts, and even more so since this was their first time working and creating on the Second Company. On top of the restrictions implemented by the COVID-19 Multi-Ministry Task Force, the in-venue sharing of their work-in-progress had to be converted into an online experience, which was largely managed and executed in-house as a learning venture for the Company.

With uncertainty surrounding the current state of the pandemic, this year’s liTHE is planned as a hybrid performance, with in-venue performances from 16th to 18th September at the GAC Black Box, while the 8pm shows on 17th and 18th September will also livestreamed in real-time. Unlike last year’s in-house online sharing, this year’s livestream will be professionally managed and executed by local film-making company, Pangolin Films, providing the opportunity for more to experience this year’s programme from home especially with the seating capacity limits under the current safe distancing measures.

liTHE 2021 plays from 16th to 18th September 2021 at Goodman Arts Centre Black Box. Tickets available from SISTIC

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