The Esplanade’s Final Edition of the da:ns Festival Set to Electrify | SENATUS Magazine


By Charmian Leong

After 17 years of captivating audiences through the beauty of bodily poetry, the Esplanade’s da:ns festival is presenting its final edition this year.

From 13 to 23 October, Where Dance Takes Us will bring together long-awaited commissions that were stalled by the pandemic as well as electrifying new performances by local and regional dance studios and talents.

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One of the more intriguing performances to headline the festival is Tree of Codes. The combination of dance, electronic music and visual art by choreographer Wayne McGregor, Mercury Prize-winning composer Jamie xx and artist Olafur Eliasson was inspired by Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel of the same name. 

Except Foer’s novel itself was more an actual art piece that happened to take the form of a book, as its pages were filled with words that were cut out from another novel: Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles. A dizzying project that was three years in the making, Tree of Codes has often performed to sold-out houses across the globe since its premiere in 2015.

Another international act to catch is the Pichet Klunchun Dance Company. Klunchun himself spent two decades studying the Thai dance-drama genre of khon to create No. 60. By applying a contemporary filter to the classical style of khon, his hope is that No. 60 will encourage a dialogue that challenges tradition with innovation.;

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To celebrate the opening of the Singtel Waterfront Theatre, The Human Expression (T.H.E) Dance Company will be putting on Infinitely Closer, a contemporary dance directed by Kuik Swee Boo and enhanced by holograms and immersive three-dimensional sound.

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Other highlights within the Esplanade include the Evening Voices triple-bill by the Singapore Ballet, and Forward Shift, a platform that focuses on new creations by Asian dance-makers. This year’s iteration features works-in-progress by Hwa Wei-An and Liu I-Ling, and is themed around the loss of control. 

There will also be plenty of non-ticketed performances to enjoy. The youth-centric Next Generation presentations returns this year with FULL OUT! Next Gen, where over 150 dancers from six Singapore tertiary institutions will be showing off energetic styles that cover everything from K-pop to hip-hop.

Meanwhile, the RASAS presentations will focus on the ancient Indonesian dance forms of Balinese Gambuh dance-drama, and the Saman, rapa’i geleng, and lilok pulo styles from the Aceh region.

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Rounding out the festival are dance workshops, masterclasses and talks. Learn new dance moves over at the What’s Your Move? platform or delve into the creative process of Wayne McGregor (below, left) at his masterclass.

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Street dance enthusiasts will not want to miss the Culture, Community and Collaboration: A Hip Hop Perspective talk with Australian B-Boy and choregeographer Nick Power (above, right).

Fortunately, 2022 only marks the end of the da:ns festival as we know it. Moving forward, it will instead be transformed into a year-long series of thematic dance programmes that will allow for a deeper appreciation of the art form. 

Esplanade Presents

da:ns festival

13 to 23 Oct 2022

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