Beyond the tricksy traditional fare, there's real emotional magic at the International Dance Festival 2009.
The annual festival has come with a few changes. Despite the economy, the festival turns out to have attracted a larger number of international troupes than ever before, hence engaging more performing arts venues especially indoor theatres, as well as contributing to its inaugural organisation of ticketed shows.
Of all twelve paid performances, staged first at
The only piece that stood out was the one in which a male dancer spun around all the way through in his vast skirt with perfect control of the body and showing absolutely no sign of dizziness. This reviewer could not help recalling the Sufi whirling dervish, but a much less spiritual one. The Egyptian’s focus appeared to be on showy tricks from juggling golden disks, pulling the Egyptian flag out of his front pouch, to peeling off layers of the skirt and swirl them around his different body parts as if they were hula hoops.
Contemporary dance companies occupied the stage the following evening.
Closing the night was Dance Company E.V.O.L’s feminist dance piece “Eros and Psyche”. Amidst the pitch black stage, two female dancers started off flashing hand-held lights towards themselves and moving gracefully to Cho Yong-Uk’s music, but soon after was interrupted suddenly by a suit-clad man who switched off their torches, put delicate flowing skirts on them, and untied their hair. From then on, the two women tried to keep together in their dances but were always obstructed by the male performer who kept pushing wheeled boxes—on top of which overbearingly stood other female dancers in manly overcoats—in their way, restructuring and limiting their stage space.
In the same way that Psyche from the Greek mythology was abandoned by her lover Eros just because she disobeyed his order and had to go through arduous obstacles to win him back, the two dancers could only express themselves within the frame set by a patriarchal figure. As human beings, these three ladies were incomplete, and perhaps so are many other women in their own love stories.
Portraying relationships in a more positive light was “Touch” by
Famed for their innovative dances on stilts, the company proved they could as well excel on foot. Their movements were not only technically challenging but also impassioned. The performers looked effortless most of the time, and the Thai dancer Prateep Na Thalang Weerasak blended in with the rest of the cast seamlessly. Pas de deuxs between male and female dancers as well as amongst only the male were intimate as they faced one another skin to skin, eyes to eyes and heart to heart. Like the white globes on stage that could move long ways with just one push from the dancers, the human touch, too, is one significant component to ignite or carry on relationships between people.
At Aksra Theatre on Tuesday 17th March, Ballet Prague’s triple-bill, “Te Deum”, “Carmen Pas De Deux”, and “Wild Horses” kept up to the Italian troupe’s standard—in terms of technique but not originality and emotion.
The audience enjoyed the smart mixture of humour and beauty. However, the overall performance seemed quite old-fashioned and superficial.
“International Dance Festival 2009” continues at various venues in Chiang Mai from 21st to 25th March 21 to 25, and will conclude at Centerpoint Playhouse in
written by Jasmine Baker
published in The Nation on Tuesday, March 24, 2009
photos courtesy of Friends of the Arts Foundation and Daily Xpress
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