Looking at the ever-changing and unpredictable landscape around us, one may feel overwhelmed to navigate the challenges and uncertainty ahead of us. This year, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s da:ns festival reflects on these liminal states and invites us to immerse ourselves in where dance takes us; what it can reveal, the path opens as we experience it and how it can inspire us to embrace the flow in these times of transition and change.
These questions are also pertinent as we will be transforming the festival into an exciting season of dance programmes spread out through the year, each with specific themes that allow for richer appreciation of this artform.
After a hiatus of international dance productions touring to Singapore, this year's festival features diverse works which have tenaciously survived through the pandemic, some of which have been delayed from premiering in Singapore for as long as two years. In Tree of Codes, audiences will be transported into a world of visual and musical overdrive from three visionaries—multi-award-winning choreographer and director Wayne McGregor, Mercury Prize-winning producer Jamie xx and renowned visual artist, Olafur Eliasson. The long-awaited Esplanade commission and co-production, No. 60 by Pichet Klunchun Dance Company, finally arrives in Singapore after its tour in Europe. Building on 20 years of research, it offers an accessible entry into decoding tradition, paving the way for the appreciation and future trajectories of traditional dance.
To celebrate the opening of Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade, we have commissioned The Human Expression (T.H.E) Dance Company’s newest work, Infinitely Closer by Kuik Swee Boon, with a stellar team of collaborators from Asia. The work is a response to the impact that apathy and increasingly complex systems have on human expression and freedoms.
Also featured is Singapore Ballet with Evening Voices, a spirited triple-bill set against the beautiful Marina Bay skyline. Our work-in-progress platform for Asian dancemakers, Forward Shift, will feature new creations by two emerging Asian dancemakers, Hwa Wei-An (Malaysia/Singapore) and Liu I-Ling (Taiwan), which navigate the theme of loss of control. Audience members are invited to offer feedback which can be useful to the choreographers as they embark on the next phase of their creations.
With a strong focus on process and learning, our NEXT GENERATION presentations return to spotlight youth dancers as they benefit from professional guidance. FULL OUT! Next Gen goes big and wild as we feature over 150 dancers from six different tertiary-based street dance groups; audiences will be treated to three different shows under the direction of Zaini Tahir, with each night featuring a collaborative performance between two schools, a result of five months’ worth of preparation. Also join us in In the Studio with Liu I-Ling and LASALLE College of the Arts and In the Studio with Studio Wayne McGregor and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, as the students share their work-in-progress creations and the processes involved at their one-week creative residencies with this year’s festival artists.
Discover the rich culture of Asia’s traditional dances in the region with RASAS. This year, Rasas spotlights dance forms from two different regions of Indonesia–Bali and Aceh, presenting their diverse dance forms and cultural heritage. Anangun Semara Santhi offers four intensely expressive dance forms from Bali, tari condong, baris tunggal, tari jauk manis and tari oleg tambulilingan, while Sanggar Seni Seulaweut (Seulaweut Art House) performs three dynamic dances from Aceh: Saman, rapa’i geleng and likok pulo, which are all characterised by the harmonious movements of the dancers’ hands and upper bodies.
Lastly, PARTICIPATE in the festival through dance workshops, masterclasses, talks and more! Pick from eight different genres and learn some slick new moves in the beloved What’s Your Move? platform taught by local dance studios. Gain insights on Wayne McGregor’s choreographic practice with a Studio Wayne McGregor Dance masterclass or be introduced to the rich culture and history surrounding the exciting dances from Aceh through Rasas Workshop: Introduction to dances from Aceh. For street dance lovers, don’t miss the talk: Culture, Community and Collaboration: A Hip Hop Perspective with Nick Power as the Australian b-boy and choreographer shares his practice and propositions for alternative paths for street dance. Finally, reencounter artists and dance lovers from various editions of da:ns festival via the people of da:ns digital project; and we also welcome you to share your memories with us through the friendly da:ns kakis volunteers around the centre during the festival.
From 13 – 23 October 2022, as we bring you the last edition of da:ns festival, we invite all past and present audiences, artists, crew, volunteers and supporters to, once again, open yourselves to new journeys and connections we make through dance. We also express our heartfelt thanks to our Principal Sponsor BNP Paribas for supporting the festival. After 17 years, we are ready to take on the next chapter; and we look forward to embracing where dance takes us.
Programmer, The Esplanade Co Ltd