SINGAPORE: From the presence of hula hoops to a touch of circus acrobatics, the lineup for this year’s M1 Contact Contemporary Dance Festival offers just enough twists for aficionados of dance.
The biggest twist, however, is a change in dates. Beginning this year, the annual festival organised by T.H.E Dance Company has moved up the arts calendar and will be held from June 2 to July 7. Previously, it took place in November and December.
Now on its eighth edition, M1 Contact will feature 27 works across five productions and all of them will be held at the Esplanade, a longtime collaborator. Dance classes and workshops, meanwhile, will be held at Goodman Arts Centre.
For the first time, the festival will also be presenting a free public show at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre called Dance At Dusk. Over the festival’s first weekend, there will be nightly performances by members of T.H.E’s first and second companies as well as Swiss duo Company Ici’bas, who include a circus-theatre trained performer. But these will not just be your run-of-the-mill dance shows - the performers will also be explaining their moves along the way.
"The Esplanade Outdoor Theatre is more commonly associated with music events enjoyed by a wide range of audiences. We hope to introduce contemporary dance with the same dose of fun and creative learning insights, especially to those whom haven't had access to or experienced dance,” said T.H.E artistic director Kuik Swee Boon.
A free show combined with dancers explaining some of the pieces will also be instrumental in helping new audiences engage with and “decode” contemporary dance, added Faith Tan, lead dance producer at the Esplanade.
Dance critic Stephanie Burridge's Mist will feature T.H.E Dance Company alumni Yarra Ileto and violinist Kailin Yong. (Photo: Bernie Ng)
Festival organisers also hope that moving up the event’s dates to June from the regularly jampacked and saturated year-end arts calendar will further build audiences for M1 Contact.
Other performances this year include a new festival commission for emerging Singaporean dancer-choreographer Germaine Cheng, who is creating a 25-minute work based on the idea of the Rube Goldberg machine, a cause-and-effect system of devices.
Respected Singapore dance critic Stephanie Burridge is presenting a piece called Mist. It is in collaboration with T.H.E alum Yarra Ileto and will also feature a live musical performance by violinist Kailin Yong. Meanwhile, American dancer Gabrielle Revlock, who is known for using a hula hoop in her performances, will be presenting a piece called Unstructured Time.
Young non-professional dancers will also be taking part in a developmental showcase called Off Stage, which will feature works-in-progress. Among them is stage actor Thomas Pang, a familiar face in the theatre scene, who will be directing and performing in a piece called You/Me? with dancer Lim Pei Ern.
Finally, the festival will also feature a new collaboration between T.H.E Dance Company and New Zealand visual dance theatre group Muscle Mouth. Titled Borderline, it will feature two works by Kuik and Muscle Mouth’s Ross McCormack.