Going onstage (www.esplanade.com).


da:ns Lab 2020: Prognosis, Treatment & Rehabilitation

Differing modes of reflection and analysis while looking into the concepts of illness and recovery


Published: 27 Nov 2020

da:ns Lab is an annual workshop-seminar for artists and arts practitioners to critically reflect on key issues surrounding their creative practice. This year's theme is Co-immunity: How to Dance When We Are All Ill, inviting participants to reflect on all that has been disordered amidst global crises and health emergencies. In this paradigm of illness, we challenge the preconceptions often assumed of the dancing body—as one that is able-bodied, productive and live. 

da:ns Lab 2020 is a remote meeting taking place online with 60 participants from six regional clusters across Hong Kong, Manila, New Delhi, Singapore, Sydney and Taipei. Participants explored how dance can operate within the paradoxical framework of co-immunity, developing infrastructures of support and relations of care, while building resistance and resilience across the different arts ecologies in the region. 

Satellite Proposals

The following section comprises the satellite proposals presented on Day 2 of da:ns Lab, which served as the basis for discussions on Day 2 and 3. Longer proposals have been paraphrased. 


Touch As A Paradigm Shift (AUS)

  • Isolation does not protect us. Neither in the long-term, nor without sacrificing particular groups. How do we build co-immunity and resilience in our community/ies through the approach of collective and shared bodies?
  • Atomisation: Disconnection/Splintering/shattering of bodies. Fragmentation of community.
  • Fear of the unknown/failure manifests in the body
  • How can our bodies serve each other?
  • Touch will be a paradigm shift (see Wall-E clip).
  • What is Covid-19 allowing us to see that we couldn’t see before? Covid-19 as a symptom of the illness of privilege/s. The pandemic stops us from participating in our roles in the (capitalist) machine. By pulling out, we gain a different perspective. Let’s recognise the current situation as a symptom rather than an illness.

Breath as Shared Space

x Score For Co-Immunity In A Time Of Masked Impunities (PHP)

Systemic // anthropocentric systems of co(i)mmunity

How do we make sense of our realities using our bodies and how do we perform our ways of survival?

Performance as direct action and mutual aid
Performance as survival
Performance as life support


  • How do we use our bodies to navigate the ill terrain towards a mutualistic relationship with our environment?
  • How do we make sense of our realities using our bodies and how do we perform our ways of survival?
  • How do we us our bodies to navigate the ill terrain of our mutualistic relationship with the environment?

Politics of Breathing
Breath as a connector of landscapes
Breath as a liminal space
Politics of breath
Breathing co(i)mmunity
Breathing for survival

The COVID body & social choreography (SIN)

What is the Covid-19 Body? A Diagnosis on Social Choreography in the time of Covid-19

How to choreograph social rehabilitation?
How to negotiate social proximity through performance?

Choreography of the Covid-19 body
The Social Body in Singapore - Dancing Together, Public Engagement, Audience Outreach
Reconceptualising “Got To Move”* as a nationwide dance movement in the time of Covid-19

Covid-19 as Choreographer

  • A body constrained by Covid-19 measures
  • Trapped in the body - senses deprived of stimuli
  • Attention span; desire for undivided attention
  • Movement of stillness, distancing, digitisation, etc
  • Bigger sense of empathy despite being more isolated
  • Trust - issues of intimacy and authenticity

Got to Move (GTM), an initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC), is the nationwide dance movement that celebrates the diversity of dance in Singapore. With popup events throughout the year in addition to an anchor festival held annually in October, Got to Move aims to ignite Singaporeans’ interest in dance and to deepen their appreciation of the art form. It is a national platform to bring together Singapore’s dance professionals and enthusiasts and to showcase their talents and works to a diverse audience. (First edition: 2015) https://www.nac.gov.sg/gtm-events/gtm/overview.html

Creating for the online journey (HKG)

From the perspective of Chinese medicine, we are not sick; instead, the internal mechanisms of the body are unbalanced, so we have not been able to face the challenges of the external environment.

This pandemic is not about illness but a moment to study our past journey/knowledge. How can we use our past knowledge to adapt to a new world?

Are we using an “offline” mentality to approach an “online” situation?

Can online media convey the human aura (灵光)?

What is an online art work?

Embodying Omission (INA)

How can we counter/respond to omissions/erasures/absences/disappearances?

What do leaky bodies look like?

How do we occupy space and time, as a response to omission?

How do we learn to read the hierarchies of doing, understanding that not all bodies are allowed to produce and consume differently?

Recent socio-political developments in our context lead us to consider the ways in which institutions repeat and reaffirm violent forms of erasure and forced disappearance. We have experienced and encountered these omissions in various forms. India’s Citizenship Amendment Act does this by actively invisibilizing particular religious groups. This spurred nationwide protests, and the lockdown announced to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic was essentially another form of omission, effectively silencing all material forms of dissent, even as the government continues to target citizens on flimsy pretexts, eerily twinning with what is happening in Hong Kong right now. Since the lockdown, we have also considered what it meant for such structures to be replicated constantly within artistic practice. For example, a series of seminars organised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s central cultural body, in the 1950s, still continue to define how forms are identified as ‘classical’, ‘folk’, ‘tribal’, or ‘experimental’, also beginning to dictate how these forms are funded and supported, and who gets funded to practise these forms. Though we continue to make work outside of these structures, they perpetuate a violence that generationally enables some forms of practice at the cost of others.

Currently, much of the state’s cultural policy is shaped by its political ideology. In inhabiting new modes of doing and being, do we continue to reinforce old patterns? What indeed, is the ‘new normal’ and how can we read and embody this normal with a sensitivity to the hierarchies of doing, i.e., recognising, in Sharmila Rege’s words, that ‘struggles for survival are inseparable from struggles for
cultural meaning’?

If these erasures represent ‘institutional omissions’, what would it mean to occupy and embody these omissions, to fill the spaces we are kept out of? What would it mean to arrive at, and to write a manifesto, an action statement, for our task of ‘embodying omission’?

Virus as Queer and the Digital Umwelt (TWN)

Virus as Queer
What is the sexuality/otherness/transness of the virus?
When the virus interacts with a cell, is it a non-consensual sexual intercourse?
Inclusion: would you include a virus?
Virus as border-crosser

Digital Umwelt
Merging of our physical reality with data streams, information to form a new digital umwelt.
Can we communicate with other life forms and other umwelts via digital interfaces?

The six proposals began as reflections of the contexts and concerns of the artists in each satellite. Almost immediately, participants saw points of connection and interest across the various proposals, developing discussions on intersecting topics. It is impossible to encompass 64 self-directed experiences, but the following maps and notes from the documentarians and contributions from participants may give some idea.


At the close of Day 3, participants returned to their satellite groups to process their thoughts and ground their experiences. Each group generated an offering or a presentation for the final day. It would be misleading to characterize each of those offerings as a conclusion to the earlier proposals; some individuals had developed their lines of enquiry from day one, and others had been inspired by a synthesis of new ideas.

Again, it is impossible to capture all the offerings in this report, but here are some highlights.

Care Dance Party

Over the next 15 minutes we would like to invite you to be with us in care-taking for each other. Some suggestions are: You can write in the chat box a gesture of care. You can perform a gesture of care. You can mention a care you have given someone recently. Or you could simply ask for some care you need right now. Those can be small or big, possible or impossible. Whatever your living hearts desire. To begin, we will play some music. When the music stops, we will come together in silence.

A Covid-19 Glossary


Artists as virus. How do we move vertically and horizontally across different fields and ideas? Reimagining the body of the artist.

Humans evolving as a digital sub-species

Interface, frame. How can we re-imagine this?
Plural selves, digital family. Cyberspace as architecture.


Creating our own immune system through connecting across borders and in multiple worlds.

The anti-body as antidote to omissions

Extending the ontology of the anti-body to mean an archive of strategies of resistance against omission/invisibility

Gua sha treatment

Traumatic therapy
Activate the body’s self-healing ability to achieve energising resistance

Embody Omission

As you inhale, starting now, remember that you’re not sucking in air, but making space…

You’re not grabbing at air, you’re making space in the body to receive air. And when you breathe out, the air leaves, to allow you to do that.

Breath is the pact you make with air, to share space with it, to hold it, and to pour yourself out into it. Breath and body, rights and duties

As a child, the first thing I learned about the Constitution was that rights and duties are two sides of the same coin.

To embody omission, then, is to account for both sides of the coin.

– Ranjana Dave

Breath as Shared Space x Score for Co-immunity in the Time of Impunity - JK Anicoche

Breathing together as direct action.

Breathing as pre-condition for movement.

Economy of breathing.

Politics of breathing

Acknowledgement of space affecting breathing.

Recalibrating body for breathing and movement.

Collective masked breathing.

Expansiveness in notions of “breathing” performance time and space/s in virtual exchanges.

Directionality of breathing together. Remote breathing for civic engagement.

E/co(i)mmunity Contemporary ritual-making.


I am Nrithya. I AM a descendant of embodied omission. I AM embodied omission. In a way it is surreal for me to part of this LAB. I shall simply continue to exist and prosper. I shall continue to question while I PUNCH UP. I will hope for embodiments of omission to come question complicit people in power. institutional erasure and omission.

I will dance
I will speak
I will write.

Survival, Regeneration

In the weeks after the conclusion of the da:ns Lab programme, I spoke to several participants about whether they desired/found channels for the energy, ideas and connections generated at this da:ns lab even as we returned to our daily preoccupations. I learned about the integration of new reflections into personal projects. In cities now re-entering lock-downs and political turmoil, one participant described the lab as “a preparation” for personal resources for self-care and re-connection with others. Also plans for a reading group in Taipei, and an invitation for the Philippine satellite artists to present their work in a new festival, Comunidad X, at the end of the year.

Six weeks after the event, it may still be too early to expect visible stirrings of anti-bodies, or of recuperation. Further observation is required.



Adrianne Semmens, Claire Hicks (Co-Facilitator), Gabriela Green, Matt Cornell, Mish Grigor, Patricia Wood, Raghav Handa, Rakini Devi, Reina Takeuchi, Taree Sansbury

Hong Kong
Wayson POON (Co-Facilitator), Blue Ka Wing, Jacky FUNG, Carrol HO, Fai TSANG, DONG XianLiang, LEE King-chi, Kong CHAN

Ranjana Dave (Co-facilitator), Najrin Islam, Joshua Sailo, Sammitha Sreevathsa, Nrithya Pillai, Avni Sethi, Meghna Bhardwaj, Neha Kudchadkar

HUANG Ding Yun (Co-facilitator), SU Pin-Wen 蘇品⽂, SU Yu-Hsin 蘇郁⼼, Zito TSENG, SU Shen-Yuan 蘇紳源, Eric TSAI 蔡承翰, TSAO Imin 曹益銘, HUANG Yen Chao ⿈彥超, TSAO Tsun-Hui 曹存慧, TSAI Chi-Hung 蔡奇宏

JK Anicoche (Co-facilitator), Sasa Cabalquinto, Reef Liggayu, Deborah Afuang, Regina Bautista, Ted Nudgent Fernandez Tac-an, Maria Mison, Issa Manalo Lopez, Jared Jonathan Luna (process-documenter)

Daniel KOK (Co-facilitator), CHONG Gua Khee 张⽉崎, Jocelyn CHNG, Fezhah Maznan, Ruby JAYASEELAN, Sonia KWEK 郭藝清, Melinda LAUW, Valerie LIM, Bernice LEE, Zihan LOO, Rachel NIP, Ammar Ameezy Nasrulhaq, Alecia NEO, Norhaizad Adam, Melissa QUEK, ila, Corrie TAN (陳霖靈), Jill J. TAN, Dapheny CHEN

Download the full report here
da:ns lab

da:ns lab is an annual platform for dance practitioners to reflect upon key issues surrounding their creative practice, as part of da:ns festival at Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay. The programme aims to engage dance practitioners in Singapore and the Southeast Asian region in artistic discourse, research, reflection and exchange.

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