Friday, September 2, 2011

Scratching my head

The Thin White Line performers. LtoR; Pov, Narim, Davy, Belle, Leak
Occasionally, I watch a contemporary dance performance and I'm left scratching my head. Tonight was one such occasion. I had no idea what the choreographer (Paea Leach) or the dancers were trying to convey. I needed subtitles to tell me where they were going with this. In the preamble the choreographer said it was a collection of ideas, seemingly random as far as I was concerned. To some extent, you take from this style of dance whatever you want to take. It's pretty much a case of practiced free-form, so it's not a story in the strictest sense of the word, as you get with classical dance for example, so everyone has a different take on what they see. The programme that was given out as you entered the hall, explained that the piece, titled Thin White Line, was essentially the fine balance taken by the dancers between respecting tradition as they seek new ideas and influences. Tradition was there to see in the form of the hand-held Buddhas and the deer heads, the new influences, was pretty much everything else. A particularly outstanding series of moves came late on between Belle and Leak, who were entwined for what seemed like ten minutes, putting their bodies through a sequence of loops, twists, tangles and rotations that kept them bonded tightly together, which would've been a first for most of the Khmer audience to see a male and female dance so close together. The timing, energy and movement of the dancers, who also included Pov, Narim and Davy, was liquid and seemingly boundless throughout the piece but I was still left to ponder, and wonder, about what I had just witnessed. If I had time to stay behind, I would've asked. For the dancers, all of whom were classically trained, these workshops in contemporary dance, with different ideas thrown at them from various choreographers from around the world, courtesy of the link-up with Amrita, is an invaluable learning experience for them, and just because I didn't understand it, doesn't mean that they, and the rest of the audience went away equally perplexed.

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