Renowned choreographers' works at dance fest

The Contact Contemporary Dance Festival returns this month for its fourth edition. Among other things, watch the pale face of Danish dancer Kitt Johnson enmeshed in a hair net, the playful duet of partners Tamako Akiyama and Dimo Kirilov, and the premiere of a new work by South Korean choreographer Kim Jae Duk.

Since its inception in 2010, the festival organised by T.H.E Dance Company has grown from 10 performances and an attendance of 1,100 to 28 performances and a crowd figure of 1,600 last year.

Artistic director of the dance troupe Kuik Swee Boon, 40, says: "We bring in artists from places such as China, South Korea, Japan, Spain and Denmark, and their vocabulary, style and expression are so different. It's good to know more, so that we have a better understanding of what contemporary dance is, which will enrich the experience for both the artist and the audience."

One of the highlights of the festival is its Seasoned Artistry series, which invites renowned international choreographers to show their works over two evenings at the Goodman Arts Centre Black Box.

One of these artists is Danish dancer- choreographer Johnson, who is known for her dark solo works and haunting imagery. During this year's festival, which runs from Nov 29 to Dec 8, she will present her established 25-minute-long work Stigma, which premiered in Copenhagen in 1999.

The 54-year-old says in a telephone interview with Life!: "This piece is about the stigma, the mark that makes you different from everyone else. It might be psychological or it might be on the outside.

"For me, it's interesting because 'stigma' can also mean the respiratory organ of an insect, so it's possible for it to be used in a constructive sense in your life instead of having destructive power."

Other artists who will be performing under the Seasoned Artistry banner include Japanese dancer Akiyama, principal dancer of Spain's Compania Nacional de Danza, and Bulgarian-born Kirilov, a freelance artist. The pair, who are in a relationship, will perform Aimless, an intimate pas de deux to a Cuban guitar.

South Korea's Ambiguous Dance Company, which is known for its deconstructed take on dance, will showcase Coexistence, an energetic and amusing exploration of the duality of human nature.

As part of the festival, T.H.E Dance Company will premiere Mr. Sign, a full-length work by resident choreographer Kim, 29. In it, six dancers will turn social convention on its head by exploring the notion of conventional conversation.

Speaking in Korean through a translator, Kim says that this piece began with a series of questions: "I asked myself, how can I clearly show my existence? If I sit alone in my room, asking myself about my existence, is that enough? Or do I have to interact with the world?"

Local companies will also get a chance to showcase their works at the festival.

DiverCity 2013 is a platform featuring works from companies such as Frontier Danceland, Maya Dance Theatre and Re:Dance Theatre.

On his hopes for the festival, Kuik says: "Over the next few years, I hope that people will understand more about contemporary dance, the audience will be more open and be able to appreciate different types of voices."

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.