Frontier Danceland’s annual MILIEU year-end production returns with a live double bill performance this November, with two works choreographed by Frontier Danceland Artistic Director, Low Mei Yoke and Assistant Artistic Director, Chiew Peishan. With the ongoing pandemic, both works converge on a common theme – time, and how one’s past feelings and memories have an effect on our perception of time, making it such a subjective experience.
Unlock by Low is a reconstruction of White (2012). Rediscovering facets of identity that were once ignored or suppressed, the work explores the potentiality of one’s dark sides of the shadow self to empower and bring light to the being. Low recalls “White was my first creation for Frontier Danceland when it transited to become full-fledged nine years ago in 2012. Inspiration of the work was drawn from my experiences of insomnia. Deep in the nights, I began to enjoy having conversations with the self that in turn allowed me to find more authenticity and greater clarity of my state of being”.
Unlock features original music by Madeleine Tan specially composed for the adaptation. In reconstructing the work, Low shares her focus “to reconnect with the original impetus and feeling, as well as having gained a retrospect discovery that I had not been able to own an ease of heart and mind back then.”
Re Apple Diary by Chiew dialogues the autobiographical re-imagination of filmic work, Apple Diary (2021). Exploring the themes of power and agency through the juxtaposition of personal history with absurdity, the work examines the compulsion to repeat traumatic memories as a paradoxical positive confrontation of the past and inquires if healing can occur coming out of the other side. Conceived as a dance film, Apple Diary (2021) is an intimate musing of a personal failure to speak up against being silenced.
Casting her mind back to the traumatic times where her words often get contorted to the extent that she was better off voiceless and the silent treatment underwent in a toxic workplace environment of power abuse, Chiew laments that “the aural landscape that music composer and sound designer, Ng Jing crafted for the film is highly meaningful to me, akin giving sorrow words. It gives strength in an ongoing process of regaining my voice. Hence, when I had the opportunity to explore a live performance realization of the work, my instinct was to craft a choreographic response to the sound score”.
In addition to the sound score, audiences can look forward to the exploration of the property of the bathtub, as well as the significance of the set of origami apples in Re Apple Diary.
MILIEU returns after a hiatus in 2020, the first cancellation of the annual programme since its curation in 2012. In view of Safe Management Measures, audience capacity is still limited to 50 persons per live performance. As part of the company’s art-making transformation explorations, MILIEU 2021 will also be adapted for film, to be released in March 2022 after both films’ post-production process.
For Low, “regardless live performance or digital presentation, we place greater value on the quality of performance translation through the different mediums of live theatre and film. Rather than get overly caught up on the differences between the physical and virtual space, what’s more important is the attempt for each work to locate an expression that effectively adapts or even extends its intent, rather than duplicate the same content through the different mediums”.
Photo Credit: Frontier Danceland
MILIEU 2021 plays from 12th to 13th November 2021 at SOTA Studio Theatre. Tickets available from SISTIC