Dance Review - Crossings: A Double Bill
Written by: Elizabeth Chan, commissioned by Singapore Chinese Dance Theatre | 14 July 2019
The Singapore Chinese Dance Theatre (SCDT) presents Crossings: A Double Bill at the Drama Centre Theatre this weekend. In the first half, A Traveller’s Recount, Artistic Director Lim Moi Kim brings to life some beloved female figures in Chinese literary texts: Liang Hongyu (played by Chung Lai Yee), Bai Suzhen (Zhang Yin) and Xiaoqing (Wong Zhuoqin). A lone male traveller (Zhang Jiahui) links these scenes together, where we first see beautiful women enjoying each other’s company by the picturesque West Lake, which then shifts into General Liang Hongyu’s bedchamber, where she mourns the death of her father, before picking herself up again in order to lead her army into battle. With Lim’s expertise in both Teochew opera as well as in several styles of wushu, her dancers embody the steely strength of women who can outlast any man.
In A Traveller’s Recount, we see classical Chinese dancing with umbrellas, water sleeves and a giant drum, whereas in You...Me, our gaze is shifted from the ancient into the modern. Guest choreographers and dancers Jiang Wei, Zhang Yapeng and Shu Yaohui are all young dance artists from the People’s Republic of China who were trained in Chinese dance and have since transited into the contemporary dance scene. All three dancers have danced for contemporary dance companies and collectives in the PRC, including the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Hou Ying Dance Theater and Xie Xin Dance Theater. This means that their choreography blends many techniques together, such as contact improvisation and call and response. There is also an embodied architectural sensibility in their staging, in terms of thinking about the entire visual impact of the proscenium stage. For example, although the piece is made up of solos and duets, the other dancers never leave the stage, and instead frame the dancing characters with their bodies and their gaze.
Live musicians DoReFaSoLah, led by music director Kailin Yong, respond in real time to the duets in You...Me: the slow embrace of Wong Zhuoqin and Zhang Jiahui’s entwined bodies, where you cannot tell whose limb is emerging from whose torso; Zhang Yin and Shu Yaohui as lovers, grappling with a third-wheeling umbrella; the aggressive martial match between Crystal Chung and Lynn Tan in the midst of tangled elastic; Shu and Zhang Yapeng in a game of follow-the-leader, one stoic and weighty, the other silly and sprightly. Some sections of choreography remind me of moments from other dances, such as Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem’s Sacred Monsters, as well as Lin Hwai-min’s Rice. The pace of the second half is slower and more pensieve, which allows for the audience to fill in the gaps with their own imagination, based on the atmosphere onstage.
Overall, this is a varied repertoire both in terms of form and identity, with a transnational cast and crew. Lim Moi Kim mentions that as the artistic director of SCDT, she resists labelling her choreographic style as place- or region-based. Instead, she is inspired by the wide variety of Chinese cultures and forms, and often invites guest choreographers from different training backgrounds - such as Jiang, Zhang and Shu in this instance, and Ho Kaman and Yong Yong Xin’s Speechless Sorrow in HEARTiculation in 2017 - in order to include a diverse range of choreographic styles for both the company dancers, as well as for local dance audiences, to experience.
Crossings: A Double Bill happens at the Drama Centre Theatre at 8pm on 19th and 20th July (Friday and Saturday).
Photo By: House of Music
Artistic Director cum Choreographer: Lim Moi Kim
Music Director: Yong Kailin
Guest Choreographer cum Dancer: Jiang Wei (China) and Zhang Yapeng (China)
Company Dancer: Chung Lai Yee, Tan Ling Lynn, Wong Zhuo Qin, Zhang Jiahui, Zhang Yin
Youth Wing Dancer: Adoncia Ling, Alexxys Sugianto, Chloe Zhuo, Goh Chen Yee, Lew Xinning, Nadya Chandra, Tam Chi Yan, Tan May Kim, Tay Chien Wen, Teo Tong Wei, Yip Jin Wen, Zina Tan Xiu Qi
Musician: Indra Chen, Lu Heng, Tan Qinglun, Yong Kailin
Lighting Design: Tommy Wong
Set Design: Tung Ching Yew
Costume Design: Tan Hwee Bin
Sound Engineer: Muhammad Qusaiy Bin Abdul Azmi
Stage Manager: Tan Ching Ting