Saturday, October 11, 2014

舞评 01: Review of Ancient Inscriptions By Lemuel Ong (Asia Dance News)

Put on your creative glasses as Dua Space takes you through an artistic perspective of Chinese calligraphy! As common as Chinese texts are today, not many know of the rich cultural heritage of their origins. With that in mind, Dua Space introduced a dance performance, aptly named Ancient Inscriptions to trace the evolution of Chinese calligraphy throughout the years in the form of dance.

Moments before the start of the show, a crowd began to form outside the entrance as the awaiting audience members were buzzing with hype and excitement. Photo previews of the performance with dancers in their elegant, graceful poses were placed right outside the hall, inviting awe and amazement from the audience members even before the show unveiled its curtains. With such eye-catching previews, one would surely have great expectations from Dua Space’s latest addition to their list of breathtaking acts.

The challenge set before them was to interpret and translate what would typically be expressed by the hand and arm through brushstrokes, into expressions of the entire body through their choreography. Dua Space founders Anthony Meh and Aman Yap had the vision to trace the evolution of Chinese calligraphy by emulating the strokes and movements of the writings in this 75-minute long performance. Both Meh and Yap not only hoped to educate all on the history of Chinese calligraphy, but also to bridge the cultural gap by promoting intercultural understanding. All of these were bound to be achieved as people of various age groups, races and backgrounds came together to witness this artistic interpretation of Chinese calligraphy.

The show began with a bang as heavy percussions ringed through the hall, inducing a tribal vibe as audience members were taken thousands of years back in time to trace the genealogy of Chinese writing, beginning with the earliest form – Jia-Gu Wen. The dancers executed each twist and turn with great intensity and immaculate precision, capturing the essence of the hard, raw text – which was typically written on shells and bones.

The dramatic and echoing music continued on as it brought us all in a journey of discovering the various scripts during the period of Han dynasty. From the orderly and structured regular script, to the smooth and graceful cursive script, to the quick flowing running script, and the free-spirited wild script, dancers embodied the spirits of the various scripts by tracing the movements and strokes of the writings, clearly contrasting the differences between the aforementioned scripts through a time of edutainment.

The performers – Chen Jiunn Yee, Howard Hew, Kenny Leow, Lim Shi Jun, Tan Eng Seng, Sow Yee Ming and Soo Siew Yin, led by Aman Yap – played on different intensity levels to capture the uniqueness of different strokes and movements, yet complemented each other exceptionally well, injecting a little playfulness and drama into the performance as well. They definitely deserve much credit for their impressive way of encapsulating the fluidity of the brush and ink into their dance moves, using their bodies as mediums of expression.

Ancient Inscriptions came to an end as Dua Space paid tribute to Malaysian calligraphy extraordinaire, Sim Mow Yu, through which the dancers explored the idea that calligraphy is not merely the extension of the arm and brush of the calligrapher, but also the extension of his or her mind. Each stroke of the calligraphy personifies the individuality and character of the calligrapher, and the dancers portrayed just that as they painted it out using the stage as their canvas.

To the layman, this performance would not be too foreign, complex or extravagant to digest as prior introduction slides guide you through the performance which helps the audience members gain a better understanding on the subject matter. Yet at the same time, the performance was conceptually delicious as it opened up various ideas and possibilities for the audience’s intellectual creativity consumption.

Living up to its name, Dua Space truly embraced their identity as they considered the stage a space to be shared by promoting interaction between performers and audience members alike. With a list of awards up their sleeves, much would be expected from local dance theatre company, Dua Space. And boy, they did not disappoint!

The choreography was clearly well thought-out and planned with each flex and move of the limbs timed and designed so precisely to create maximum effect and amplified drama. The utilisation of interesting props such as bamboo sticks and canes also attracted not only the sense of sight, but hearing as well. Beautifully designed costumes such as the tribal-wear in the beginning to the black and white silhouette at the end also complemented each theme perfectly while lighting and projections gave the performance an extra ‘punch’ as they created an additional dimension to the dance.

Long, resounding and roaring applauses filled the hall on the second day of their performance while audience members gave standing ovations to the team – a true testament for their great work. It was of no surprise that their performance was a great success for which it can be attributed to brilliantly thought-out choreography, original and unique background music, intricately designed costumes, mesmerising lighting and projection effects, as well as the long hours of dedication and perseverance in executing the vision. All these factors blended well together, creating an experience one would never forget as audience members were treated to an immersive artistic cultural display.

No comments:

Post a Comment