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What is contemporary dance? Part 1

Five Singapore dancers talk about the genre and how audiences can appreciate the dance of the now.


Published: 24 Sep 2020

Time taken : ~10mins

Contemporary dance... where should we begin?

An evocative introduction to contemporary dance, this video starts with a broad sweep of its history and evolution over time, eventually zooming into the personal, with five dancers from Singapore expressing their heartfelt thoughts about dance in both word and movement. It also includes tips and access points for those new and unfamiliar to the form to begin understanding what they watch when experiencing a contemporary dance performance.

Contemporary dance is a diverse form that encompasses a wide variety of expressions. This video covers only some of many approaches to contemporary dance, with the aim of providing audiences a starting point to understanding and appreciating this multi-faceted genre. More perspectives will be explored in upcoming episodes of this docuseries.

About the dancers

Anthea Seah

Anthea Seah is a full-time artist with T.H.E Dance Company. She performs the company’s existing repertoire and works with resident and guest choreographers to create original works. She has performed in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, South Korean, Japan, Latvia, Poland and Italy. Anthea contributes to T.H.E’s Hollow Body methodology. Anthea has been sharing her practice through giving classes to T.H.E Second Company, Nanyang Technological University’s dance club, and other ad-hoc classes in the form of task-based workshops and technique classes for five years. Through instruction, she finds that a naturally broader and deeper of definition of practice develops. This leads Anthea to creation. It comes in varying formats: choreographic pieces, designing movement for film, directing full-length performances and making short films.

Christina Chan

Christina graduated summa cum laude from The Boston Conservatory in 2010 and was awarded the Arthur B. Whitney Medal for highest scholastic achievement, having previously trained at New Zealand School of Dance. She has worked with artists including Noa Zuk, Stephanie Lake, Sita Ostheimer, Byron Perry, Liu Yen Cheng, Matej Kejzar, Stephanie Batten Bland, Shahar Binyamini, Wallie Wolfgruber, Gabrielle Nankivell and more. She is currently also a dancer for the full-length Duet Replica created by Stephanie Lake, Chasm by Sita Ostheimer, Lewis Major Projects and Victor Fung Dance.

From 2012-2016 she was a full-time artist and the rehearsal director with Frontier Danceland where she created numerous repertory works which were performed locally and abroad, notably at invitation from CCN tours, France and at the platform Batsheva Hosts. Christina has also created four repertory works for Singapore Dance Theatre. Christina has co-created several works with French artist Aymeric Bichon under the collective dancemeasheep; most recently, the full-length work Of fish dreaming under the National Arts Council creation grant that was performed in Paris last year. Her work has taken her all over the world, to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the USA, Africa and Asia.

Ryan Tan

Ryan Tan is recognised as one of the dance pioneers who revitalised the dance scene in Singapore. A visionary for his time, Ryan has been in the industry for over twenty years as a performer, choreographer and dance educator. In 2014, he founded The Royal Dance Off (TRDO), a youth contemporary dance company, and spearheaded numerous programs and shows to make contemporary dance relevant to the masses.

Ryan has directed and choreographed for several large-scale events such as the ASIA Games (2017), Chingay Parade (2017) and National Day Parade (2016, 2011, 2010), 28th & 27th S.E.A. Games Opening Ceremony (2015, 2013) and the Youth Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremony (2010). Ryan was also invited for four consecutive years to choreograph for the popular series So You Think You Can Dance - Vietnam (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). He was also Resident Judge on the Mediacorp's reality dance show The Dance Floor Season 2 in 2016. Ryan is now pursuing his Masters in Dance Producing and Management in the UK and working as a Show Director for an upcoming theme park in Shen Zhen, China.

Yarra Ileto

Yarra graduated with a BA First Class Honours Degree in Performing Arts (Dance). Upon graduating, she joined T.H.E Dance Company as one of its full-time pioneer members from 2008 to January 2015. She has also choreographed works for T.H.E Main Company, T.H.E Second Company and several local universities and colleges. Yarra is a professional freelance dance artist, choreographer, lecturer and artistic director. In recent years, she has performed in M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival, M1 Fringe Festival and ArtScience Late. In 2017, she received the Young Artist Award, Singapore’s highest honour for young people in the arts. In 2020, Yarra graduated with an MA in Arts Pedagogy and Practice degree with Distinction.

Zhuo Zihao

An independent artist since 2016, Zihao’s exploration of how movement can enhance performance has extended his work beyond the dance scene. He's since worked with the disabled community, children, inmates and theatre practitioners. Zihao’s practice covers related topics, such as film-making, photography, set design, production management and music composition for his own works. A culmination of this was Felt Sense (2013), which merged 3D projection with live performance. The 2012 young Artist Award recipient co-produced Dance in Situ in 2015 with the aim of bringing dance to non-dance-goers with site-specific creations. In 2016, his work Being was selected by The Straits Times as one of the best works of that year.

Zihao studied contemporary dance at LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, both under scholarships. He started his professional practice as a resident artist with Odyssey Dance Theatre from 2000 to 2004 and subsequently as a founding member with T.H.E Dance Company from 2008 to 2016. With close to two decades of practice, Zihao is a known name in the scene, having worked with many renowned artists from all over the world. He is an Associate Artist with T.H.E Dance Company.

da:ns docuseries

A three-part series that introduces you to some broader concepts in dance to initiate your discovery of this genre.

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