Singapore and Asian Dancemakers Break New Ground at Esplanade's da:ns festival 2018

Singapore and Asian Dancemakers Break New Ground at Esplanade's da:ns festival 2018

Theatres on the Bay presents the 13th edition of da:ns festival from 9 to 21 October 2018. This year, three newly-commissioned works by Singapore and Asian dancemakers-Kuik Swee Boon (Singapore), Daniel Kok (Singapore) and Rianto (Indonesia)-demonstrate Esplanade's role in driving artist development by supporting the creation of new work. In addition, da:ns festival 2018's line-up features works by acclaimed international companies and artists including Akram Khan Company (UK), Nederlands Dans Theater 1 (The Netherlands) and Lisbeth Gruwez (Belgium), who are all returning to the festival, as well as a ballet gala with international ballet stars. To get everyone involved in this 13-day celebration of movement, the festival also offers 80 workshops and masterclasses, as well as more than 82 free events.

Said Faith Tan, Head, Dance & Theatre, The Esplanade Co Ltd, "Over the past 13 years of presenting da:ns festival, Esplanade has developed many collaborative relationships with dancemakers from Singapore and overseas. This year, we are pleased to welcome back artists from Akram Khan Company, Nederlands Dans Theater 1 and choreographer Lisbeth Gruwez, whom we've developed a strong relationship with. We are also proud to have played a role in the development of new works by Singapore artists Kuik Swee Boon and Daniel Kok, as well as by rising Indonesian dance artist Rianto. The new works-one Esplanade commission and two co-commissions with international partners-underscore Esplanade's intent to support the creation of new works and artist development."

Kuik Swee Boon's Invisible Habitudes is the first full-length ticketed dance performance commissioned for Esplanade's Outdoor Theatre. The work is developed using Kuik's "hollow-body" methodology, an improvisation-based approach that trains dancers to be all-rounded performers with the ability to convey the essence of their identity and lived experiences through the full spectrum of physical, emotional, philosophical and meaningful expression. Daniel Kok partners with Miho Shimizu for xhe, a five-hour durational performance-a format rarely presented in Singapore-that stretches the artists artistically and physically. Rianto's deeply personal work, Medium, draws on his traditional lengger (a traditional cross-gender dance from Central Java) training and contemporary dance vocabulary to convey the fluidity of his practice and his ethos.


Under the Centrestage banner, da:ns festival presents the world's most inspiring dance productions and renowned artists in Esplanade's large Theatre.

With Until the Lions by Akram Khan Company (UK), Esplanade welcomes back one of the world's most important choreographers. The production-inspired by the female characters from poet Karthika Naïr's book Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, an original reworking of the 2,500-year-old Indian epic-is Khan coming full circle. He had first performed in late British theatre doyen Peter Brooks' iconic adaptation of the story as a 13-year-old. In this performance, three exceptional dancers, Rianto (Indonesia), Ching-Ying Chien (Taiwan) and Joy Alpuerto Ritter (The Philippines) perform on a set designed by Oscar award-winning artist Tim Yip.

Said Faith, "The convergence of artists from all over the world at da:ns festival each year make it a conducive platform for artistic exchange and the sparking of new partnerships. It is particularly important and rewarding for us to present Until the Lions, as we had introduced Rianto to Akram Khan Company several years ago at da:ns festival 2015, believing that there could be an opportunity for them to connect. That led to Rianto's involvement as a dancer in the work."

Nederlands Dans Theater 1 (The Netherlands), a company synonymous with technical virtuosity and gorgeously slick productions, present a mixed bill of four pieces which will delight both existing lovers of contemporary dance and those new to the form. The four pieces featured in the mixed bill are Shoot the Moon and Stop-Motion by Sol León & Paul Lightfoot, The Statement by Crystal Pite and Woke Up Blind by Marco Goecke.

The ballet stars align and shine in International Stars of Ballet, where audiences can experience the technical precision and virtuosity of internationally-acclaimed dancers from the world's leading ballet companies as they perform a dazzling programme of famous duets from ballet classics and by iconic contemporary choreographers. The line-up features Adiarys Almeida, Igor Kolb, Maria Kochetkova, Oksana Bondareva, Piotr Stanczyk, Sebastian Kloborg, Svetlana Lunkina, Taras Domitro and more, who have danced with Bolshoi Ballet, Boston Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Mikhailovsky Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Royal Danish Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.

da:ns festival's Shift platform presents thought-provoking works that shift the notions of dance and choreography. This year, Esplanade presents four works in Shift which are united by their common exploration of the state of in-betweenness. Of the four, three are new works-one Esplanade commission and two co-commissions with international partners-by Singapore and Asian dancemakers that each break new ground.

Invisible Habitudes by T.H.E Dance Company (Singapore) is an Esplanade commission that sees choreographer Kuik Swee Boon explore the finding of one's personal belief and identity in a world of rapid political and social change, where opinions and beliefs are often extreme and absolute. The work is the first full-length ticketed dance performance at Esplanade's Outdoor Theatre and in tandem with the production's themes, the open-air venue allows for interactions with the environment, connecting to the sounds and sights of the wider world. The international collaboration unites award-winning Taiwanese musician Yujun Wang, who performs live on stage, Singaporean lighting designer Adrian Tan and T.H.E's cast of dancers. It is part of T.H.E's 10th anniversary celebrations and another milestone in Esplanade's 12-year relationship with Kuik.

In addition to his performance in Until the Lions, Esplanade also presents rising Indonesian dance artist Rianto in the new work Medium, a powerfully virtuosic solo combining folk ritual, traditional and contemporary dance. Rianto performs alongside his childhood friend and musician Cahwati on a bare stage, exploring the space beyond binary opposites - between man and woman, traditional and contemporary, conscious control and trance. Medium is an Esplanade-led international co-commission with Performance Space (Sydney), National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying), and was previously supported in its early stages of creation by deSingel Internationale Kunstcampus and Staatstheater Darmstadt.

xhe by Daniel Kok and Miho Shimizu (Singapore and Japan) is a multidisciplinary performance that features dance, visual installation and live electronic music and promises to be an immersive performance that will envelop the audience in search for an elusive figure that is not "he", not "she" nor "it". The five-hour durational performance is suitable for all age groups and the audience may arrive at any point during the performance and is advised to stay for at least 90 minutes to enjoy the full range of xhe's unfolding surprises. xhe is also an Esplanade-led international co-commission with Performance Space (Sydney, in association with Naomi Milgrom Foundation).

In this year's final Shift presentation, Esplanade welcomes back Belgian choreographer Lisbeth Gruwez for AH | HA. Gruwez made her da:ns festival debut in 2013 and is one of the most exciting contemporary dance choreographers in Europe today. Gruwez focuses on laughter in AH | HA and breaks this involuntary reflex down into its component movements, showing that the ecstatic laughing body can be controlled yet spastic, beautiful yet monstrous, connected yet isolated.

da:ns festival continues to support young talents and bring dance to young audiences as part of its Next Generation platform. For the second year running, the festival presents a work recommended for young audiences aged 10 and above. Joy by Joshua Monten (Switzerland) is performed by five dancers and shows that stage combat is a serious craft relying on care, discipline, mutual trust and practice in performers. Although it uses violence, it is not a gratuitous celebration of it. Rather, it explores our responses to a visceral element prevalent in the mass media.

At the Esplanade Recital Studio, local dance institutions LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) present Cipher/Decipher and The Third Space respectively.

In addition, the festival's Sixteen da:ns Challenge platform, which celebrates street dance, will give thirty selected local dancers an opportunity to undergo an intensive 16-hour mentorship with international street dance stars. This year's choreographers are Lip J (Korea), Lock'N'lol (Korea) and Apple Yang and Kun Kun (China), who specialise in waacking, locking and urban dance respectively.

Each year, the festival casts a spotlight on Asia's rich and diverse dance heritage at Rasas, a free showcase of traditional dances from the region at the Esplanade Concourse and Outdoor Theatre. This year, audiences can look forward to Javanese classical dance by Soerya Soemirat Mangkunegaran (Indonesia), Dances from the Kelabit Highlands by Mapun Tauh Troupe (Malaysia), Cambodian Classical Dance by Sophiline Dance Ensemble (Cambodia), Kathak by Apsaras Arts (Singapore) and Bharatanatyam by Omkar Arts (Singapore).

To create more opportunities for everyone to embrace the spirit of movement, an array of activities has been lined up to get everyone on their feet or take their first steps in dance. These include:

- What's Your Move? - free mass dance sessions under the stars and along the Esplanade Waterfront, led by instructors from Singapore's dance studios.

- Footwork - Introductory dance workshops featuring over 31 dance styles, which began in June 2018 and lead up to the festival in October.

- Shall We Dance? - five-minute dance lessons conducted by the professional dancers from Jazz Inc which will take place at various locations around Esplanade.

Everyone is invited to be a part of the festival as a da:ns kaki - the festival's ambassador programme where volunteers have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and work directly with the festival team and artists.

Tickets for da:ns festival 2018 are available for purchase on, at Esplanade's Box Office at the Mezzanine level (Tel: +65 6828 8377), the SISTIC Hotline (Tel: +65 6348 5555) and all SISTIC's outlets now.

Please refer to the Annex or for more information about the festival.

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