BLURRING the boundaries
International performing arts festivals around the world now take as one of their missions to present local works, and oftentimes collaborations between local and overseas artists. This is partly to prevent a festival to become a mere showcase of foreign talents with little impact on local community. The International Dance Festival 2009 (IDF09) is no exception.
Seen on Wednesday, 18th March at
“To see someone who knows his craft very well at many levels, physically and spiritually, is always interesting to me as a choreographer and dancer. The ways Khon artists think of their movements are very different from the way we, Western contemporary dance choreographers, think about ours. Our vocabulary is always open and keeps changing. You get the tradition from studying classical ballet, [Martha] Graham’s techniques and other techniques of modern dance, but it is not as established in the culture and has nothing to do with the spiritual world—it’s just for art’s sake.”
In the performance, the five performers excelled in their parts—Olivier Vinkler and May Yimsai were intriguing in their opening and closing pas de deux, and in the middle Thai drummer Patarakit Poompipat’s movements looked like a dancer’s. The highlight was Chulachart and Idan’s mesmerizing duet, on which the latter said, “It’s very difficult in the beginning to learn new vocabulary [of Khon], but when I found myself in it, it became part of the body’s experience.”
However, connection and interaction among all parts was not quite present—probably due to lack of rehearsal time altogether—and the whole performance looked like a series of episodes rather than one unified work.
The latter part of the
The mixture of ethnic and modern music and dances, as well as exciting acrobatic movements helped add richness and diversity to the show. However, the steps were quite repetitive throughout the nine short pieces and thus, at times, it seemed as if the performers were doing the same dance over and over again, only with the change of props and costumes. Also, the show would have been much more enjoyable if there had not been certain aspiring Chinese photographers who loudly clicked on his camera shutters and kept moving from seat to seat for different picture angles throughout the performance.
The Singapore-based Malay dance troupe Teater Tari Era occupied the Centerpoint Playhouse’s stage the following evening (Thursday 19th March). Choreographed by Osman Abdul Hamid, “Acculturations—Yesterday’s Tempest” explored the human tenacity to stay on amidst life’s hard challenges through forceful jerky movements deriving from both folk and contemporary dance techniques.
The performance opened powerfully with dancers creeping down from a bamboo shelter structure and rolling hypnotically across the stage, but unfortunately lost its charm soon after when many performers could not deliver each step fully with its required dynamic.
On Friday, 20th March, four choreographies were presented by
After watching eight dance performances in seven consecutive evenings at two venues—and because of that our team needed to be split to fully cover IDF09—it seems that the festival has moved into the right direction. While keeping the outdoors free performance at
It is still a good beginning, like in the case of the intercultural and interdisciplinary collaboration of “The Silver Crane” perhaps.
written by Jasmine Baker and Pawit Mahasarinand
published in The Nation on Wednesday, April 1, 2009
photos courtesy of Friends of the Arts Foundation
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