The COVID-19 pandemic may have pressed pause on the Singapore Chinese Dance Theatre (SCDT) previous performance, but this December, they’re returning with the 7th edition of their EMERGENCE series, taking place at Goodman Arts Centre’s Blackbox.
Aimed to provide an avenue for budding choreographers to develop their artistic skills and present their work, not only do the choreographers have to incorporate elements of Chinese dance into their pieces; they also have to adhere to the theme of “昨日·今日·明日 (Yesterday·Today·Tomorrow)” for this year’s edition.
This time around, EMERGENCE, features 11 participating choreographers, the largest number since its establishment in 2014, including one participant from abroad. This participant is Chan Kar Kah from Malaysia, who will be showcasing his piece “回家 (Going Home)”, to be performed by SCDT’s company dancer, Wong Zhuo Qin. Chan’s piece explores the experiences and uncertainties surrounding one’s identity faced by Malaysian Chinese dancers who are away from home, while reflecting upon how an individual’s dance vocabulary and Chinese dance fuse and extend into each other. It has been a unique experience for Kar Kah connecting with everyone during the dance workshops and choreography mentorship sessions through digital platforms.
Apart from having a participant from abroad, EMERGENCE 2021 is also a prime opportunity for many of the participants to explore Chinese dance, and adopt its elements to amplify the power of their work. With so many of them new to Chinese dance and choreography, this is a challenge that will evoke their creativity while deepening their understanding of themselves as budding creators.
First-time choreographer Teo Ning Ginn, for example, will be exploring human’s relationship with nature and how that develops over time, an issue that close to her heart as an Environmental Biology student. Also drawing inspiration from nature is Wong Wen Ru, SCDT’s apprentice dancer. Specifically, Wen Ru’s work, “游 (Tour)” is inspired by fishes and their life at sea, how they long for freedom and their unconstrained spirit.
On the other hand, Gabriella Gleichenia Gautama, Yeo Hana Ningtias Putri, and Yong Fong Sin will be drawing inspiration from human thoughts and emotions. Gabriella is an SCDT apprentice dancer, and her work, “我明天再做 (I’ll Leave it Till Tomorrow)”, is crafted around the concept of procrastination and how we navigate through the guilt and anxiety as a result. Hana’s dance background lies in contemporary and hip hop, and this piece will mark her first venture into experimenting with Chinese dance elements in her choreography. Her piece centres on the dissociation of identity and the search for groundedness in one’s life, which reflects upon her experience back in school. Fong Sin, who is actively refining his Chinese dance techniques while serving his National Service, will be showcasing a piece titled “理想 (Dreams)”, which encourages us to contemplate the worthiness behind the sacrifices we have to make to pursue our dreams.
Similar to Hana, Xue Min Xiang has been exposed to various dance genres including Chinese dance, contemporary and hip hop throughout his dance journey, but this will be his first time integrating Chinese dance elements into his creation process. Titled “缘聚缘散 (Being together or apart is dependent on fate)”, his work expresses how fate determines the trajectory of a relationship.
Full time dancer and choreographer Xenres Chi hopes to reconnect with his Asian roots and look into how it can be integrated into the largely Westernized modern contemporary times. To achieve this, he will be exploring the concept of identity through Chinese calligraphy as a medium, where even a single stroke of brush can give a glimpse into a person’s inner world. Like Xenres, Cheryl Him Wan Kee, who received professional training in Contemporary dance and Ballet, seeks to fuse elements of East and West with a piece that interweaves Chinese dance with Contemporary dance.
Finally, the company dancers of SCDT, Neo Ke Xin and Wong Zhuo Qin, will be diving into the phenomenon of how everything, even with well-established fundamentals, will inexorably evolve with time.
Journeying with the participating choreographers will be SCDT’s very own Artistic Director, Ms Jenny Neo, and Creative Director, Mr Benedict Soh, acting as mentors to the choreographers of EMERGENCE. Together, they hope to build rapport with the new generation of aspiring choreographers, as well as to pave the way for potential future collaborations.
EMERGENCE 2021 plays from 10th to 11th December 2021 at Goodman Arts Centre’s Blackbox. Tickets available from Peatix