Fresh take on dance

SINGAPORE - If you missed the first run of T.H.E Dance Company's As It Fades in 2011, catch it when it opens for the second time next month. The full-length work, which explores the themes of memory and heritage, was commissioned for the Singapore Arts Festival in 2011.

It has since toured Malaysia, China, Italy and Denmark. In 2012, it closed the prestigious Les Hivernales Festival in Avignon, France. On restaging the production, artistic director of the company, Kuik Swee Boon, 41, says: "Nowadays, Singaporeans have more of an appreciation of their own culture and identity, so now feels like the right time to bring back As It Fades.

"People are not just looking for something Westernised, but also for something unique that belongs to us, what we should keep and learn from the past, and how we can move on."

As It Fades is the second part of a planned trilogy which explores history and heritage. The first, Old Sounds, took place in 2008 and the final instalment is due next year.

Kuik also says that reviving works is important and that the company plans to restage at least one piece from its repertoire every year from now.

He adds: "We have a good enough repertoire and in the past five years, we have created about 30 short and full-length works. We need a history, we need to remind ourselves of what we have achieved and to learn from what we have done."

As It Fades is a piece about rediscovering what makes people who they are and some portions of it draw on the rich histories of the dancers themselves.

Interspersed with recordings of Hainanese folk tunes are performers talking in Cantonese about their childhood and experiences growing up.

Kuik, who is married with a son, also drew on his own experiences to create the piece.

He says: "This piece, in general, is a reflection of my thinking, how I feel about my culture, my biography and my family history.

"I think a lot of the piece is how I think and feel about this generation, that between this and the last generation, there is a gap, the connection is broken."

During the performance, the stage will be dominated by clear, jagged pieces of acrylic mounted on metal frames.

Fifteen dancers, eight from the main company and seven from T.H.E's second company, will weave between the frames to original compositions by local artist-musician Bani Haykal.

Kuik says that 10 to 15 per cent of the choreography has changed since its first staging in 2011 and that it is now "less heavy".

"Sometimes, when you watch a piece, it almost feels like a stone on the chest and it presses you down. Sometimes, it's necessary and you need the stone, but sometimes, it's too much," he says.

"I like heavy stuff but, sometimes, it pushes the audience away from the work, and that's not good."


Where: School of the Arts Drama Theatre When: May 8 to 10, 8pm Admission: $28 and $38 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to

This article was published on April 29 in The Straits Times.

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