Performance art is never as simple as it seems. Be it a classic Abramović that shakes you to your very core, or an ordinary man making a salad in a local exhibit, performance art strives to make us think about philosophical and psychological issues. As part of the growing Singaporean arts scene, production house Theatreworks recently staged a dance performance entitled "Re/Play Dance Edit”.
Directed by Japanese director and playwright Junnosuke Tada, the performance was one of many pieces that has been executed with different performers across borders. This year’s collaboration with Japanese dancer-director Kitamari featured 6 talented local dancers, and was nothing short of being strange and inspiring.
The stage was completely white and minimalistic, providing the performers with a clean slate to convey their bold message. (Image source: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/arts/tedious-replay-of-music-and-moves)
As dancers swayed beautifully to different pieces of music, they transformed and took the audience to a different state of mind – I even forgot where I was! And then, without any warning, snapped everyone back into reality by suddenly collapsing to the ground halfway through their dance. The first dancer to go fell with a loud and violent ‘THUD’, and as his counterparts followed, I grew increasingly shocked – to say the very least.
This continued on as the new status quo of the performance, and at one stage, the dancers grew so agitated that their violent movements inspired both fear and courage. One senior citizen covered her ears and watched in horror as the performers leapt into increasingly levels of aggression, and another audience member nearly fell off her seat. I sat there in silence, confused and in awe of the mystery that was literally throwing itself on the hard wooden floor. Everyone was fixated on the dancers, not daring to look anywhere other than the stage, lest they miss an exciting moment. The insanity in their dance was painful to watch because it seemed liked the performers were dancing themselves into a frenzy!
As I left the hall, I felt nothing short of unsettled and confused. These dancing maniacs made no sense to me whatsoever. However, as I began to think about it later that night, I finally managed to throw my own dispositions and realized that this madness was a metaphor of how we live our lives.
When we are little children, our eyes are filled with wonder. We dare to try, and we dare to make mistakes. And most importantly, we dare to dream. Yet as we grow older, society slowly crushes our hopes and aspirations. “It’ll never work,” they say. “You’re being too idealistic.” “Grow up.”
In this way, we forget who we truly are, and we let the world dictate who we should be. We get so caught up in the rat race, constantly preoccupied with climbing our way up the corporate ladder. We work so hard, literally rushing from meeting to meeting, attempting to accomplish 20 things in one day until we become robots. We become empty vessels devoid of a soul, moving for the sake of moving and existing for the sake of existing.
Dreams? Forget it, because “life must go on.” Changing the world? Forget it, for someone else will do it. We shield our hearts from the uncomfortable and immerse ourselves in routines – because we know they will work. But after a while, we grow tired of this routine because we know that life has lost its meaning. Re/Play Dance Edit invites its audience to reconsider the very way we live our lives, and to make us challenge the expectations that society places on us. It encourages us to live bravely and to fight for what we believe in – something that will help us to live our lives with life.
In the programme booklet, director Junnosuke Tada posed a question to the audience, "Why do we watch this dance?" To this question, he said "Everybody will have his/her own answer. I'd like to ask you to find your own answer." I think I've found mine.
Sarah Ho is a Year 3 Sociology and Corporate Communications Major.
In her free time, she loves watching American talk shows and listening to jazz music. Expert on Tokyo and passionate about art, she writes about her unique experiences at athousandwishesathousandmiles.com.