da:ns focus

Having transformed from da:ns festival to da:ns focus in 2023/24, da:ns focus continues with an exciting year-round season of five themed weekends in 2024/25. Experience interconnected programmes that offer their own counterpoints, dialogues and encounters in a focused exploration.

About da:ns focus


Having transformed from da:ns festival to da:ns focus in 2023/24, da:ns focus continues with an exciting year-round season of five themed weekends in 2024/25, each focusing on a particular theme or genre. The programmes, experiences and activities within each weekend will offer focused explorations and opportunities for counterpoints, dialogues and perspectives. 


We continue to be excited by the possibilities that da:ns focus brings. It pushes us into fresh ways of thinking, creating and programming; enables us to attract new audiences and deepen existing audiences’ appreciation for dance; as well as explore connections and threads within a thematic focus, and further more partnerships. Whether you are curious novices or long-time dance supporters, we invite you to join us in this journey of discovery. 

da:ns focus 2024/25 (Apr 2024 – Feb 2025) consists of the following weekends:

EveryBody (19 – 21 Apr 2024)

The idea of the perfect body is one that has been perpetuated in dance. This annual EveryBody weekend thus challenges these conventions by presenting high quality works and experiences focusing on inclusivity, diversity and participation, where we encourage everybody and every body to experience dance. 

da:ns focus – EveryBody by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is an inclusive weekend (19 – 21 Apr) of dance, challenging the conventional idea of a dancing body and redefining what is possible in dance and in life. The artists we feature this year have inspiring and meaningful philosophies on art and life. New York-based Monica Bill Barnes & Company’s motto is “bringing dance where it doesn’t belong”, while leading Australian company Restless Dance Theatre firmly believes in showcasing artists who have lived experience of disability but who are not defined by their disability. We hope that through this second edition of EveryBody, you will gain new perspectives on what it means to dance, and what it means to be human.   


EveryBody was initiated last year as part of the transformation from da:ns festival to da:ns focus—a season of five distinct themed dance weekends. EveryBody challenges conventions and presents high-quality works and experiences focusing on inclusivity, diversity and participation. We were encouraged by the artists, audiences and different communities who responded positively to 2023’s edition, and we see a great need to continue our efforts in featuring diverse dancing bodies that are professional as well as pre- or non-professional. Through them, we want to encourage everybody and every body to experience dance.   


While planning this second edition, we have designed many access points for audiences, so that communities who are new to dance or inclusivity will be able to connect deeply to the artists and experiences. A highlight of EveryBody is The Running Show by Monica Bill Barnes & Company. This work will activate a large cast of Singapore dancers, ranging in age from 12 to over 70 years old. Their voices and stories will be integrated into the show via live commentary, drawing parallels between dance, sports and everyday life. Filled with dynamic movements, gripping moments and an undercurrent of humour throughout, The Running Show is an enlightening dance-theatre performance that speaks to the community and humanity of dance.  


We also take the opportunity at EveryBody to progressively expand our perceptions on differently-abled artists and their works. Australia’s leading inclusive dance company, Restless Dance Theatre presents Listen to See, where the company’s dancers invite audiences to share moments of connection through short dance exchanges. It is an intimate experience of discovery, prompting us to rethink our perspectives on the diverse abilities that we all possess.  


In addition, EveryBody brings back a range of participatory programmes, such as EveryBody workshops for beginners of all ages, from pre-schoolers and kids to youths and adults. We have also invited Restless to specially conduct two workshops: a Creative Movement Workshop suitable for differently-abled participants with diverse needs and conditions, as well as an Educator’s Workshop on the topic of creating access in dance. The beloved EveryBody Dance Now also returns, where everybody is invited to freely take part in 13 different short dance-along sessions. Among these sessions, two sessions will be wheelchair-friendly and Singapore Sign Language interpretation will also be provided.  


Join us at EveryBody for a line-up featuring 17 different performances, experiences, workshops and dance-along sessions, and discover fresh perspectives on dance, art and life.  


Iris Cheung 
Producer, The Esplanade Co Ltd 

CAN – Connect Asia Now (4 – 6 Oct 2024)

A spotlight on contemporary dance works by Asian artists, this annual gathering focuses on distinct voices and creative impulses from the region. It is also a key platform for professionals to connect and further develop Asia’s contemporary performance scene.

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay presents da:ns focus – Connect Asia Now (CAN), a weekend dedicated to contemporary works by Asian dancemakers, from 4 6 Oct 2024. In this second edition, CAN features the internationally acclaimed butoh troupe Sankai Juku; two boundary-breaking dance artists Eisa Jocson and Venuri Perera in a first-time collaboration; and rising multidisciplinary artist Joshua Serafin.


CAN takes place annually as part of da:ns focus, our year-round dance season comprising five themed weekends. It is a dedicated platform where we support artists from the region and introduce their work to Singapore audiences, carrying on from our efforts over the past 17 years as part of da:ns festival. It is also a gathering place for artists, practitioners, producers and international presenters to come together, to connect and further develop Asia’s contemporary dance scene. The title is also a playful reference to our colloquial way of saying “yes!” in Singapore.


This year, we present new dance productions which engage deeply with the embodiment of ritual, resistance and metamorphosis. Sankai Juku (Japan) returns to Esplanade after eight years with the international premiere of their latest work, TOTEM – Void and Height, choreographed and directed by the late Ushio Amagatsu. Sadly, Amagatsu passed away in March this year, making TOTEM his last choreographic work. Known for creating minimalistic and elegant visual spectacles, his works helped popularise the art form of butoh, which originated in Japan in the 1960s, among international audiences and artists. His legacy continues not only through his company’s performances but also through a younger generation of dancemakers who explore themes such as our bodies’ relationship with gravity and the environment, or pose the fundamental question of what it means to “dance” with our own unique bodies. On Esplanade Offstage, a video recording from Esplanade’s archives featuring the late Amagatsu in an artist talk on Sankai Juku’s philosophy and practice will be available for viewing from 1 Sep – 31 Dec 2024. The talk was recorded at Esplanade in 2014 as part of ConversAsians, a by-invitation only conference that brought extraordinary Asian artists and arts industry professionals together.


As part of the CAN weekend, Esplanade will co-produce and present new works by three choreographers from the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Both works will be Asian premieres.


Magic Maids marks the first collaboration between two female artists, Eisa Jocson (Philippines) and Venuri Perera (Sri Lanka). Eisa Jocson is no stranger to Esplanade, having presented several works that expose body politics in the service and entertainment industry. It is our first time presenting Venuri, whose practice deals with patriarchy, colonial heritage, and class. The two artists come from countries known for exporting domestic workers, and Magic Maids will examine oppressive power structures through an embodied inquiry into the entanglements between witch hunts and female labour.


Joshua Serafin (Philippines/Belgium) has performed at Esplanade in Manila Zoo by Eisa Jocson (da:ns festival 2021) and at VECTOR#3 in 2023, presented by Dance Nucleus in collaboration with Esplanade. In the last year, Joshua has been touring Europe, performing in significant platforms and art centres. They were nominated for the 2023 ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art in Finland and were officially invited to participate in the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. In PEARLS, their second full-length choreographic work, they attempt to reclaim pre-colonial bodies and wrestle with the fractures imprinted by empire on the body, soul, and community. Through PEARLS, we listen to the pains and memories from the past, as well as voices of strength and hope for the future.


CAN is a gathering place where artists, practitioners, producers, festival directors and curators from Singapore and overseas come together to further develop the contemporary dance scene in Asia. This is possible because of our partners. We continue to work closely with National Arts Council on International Presenters Visit Programme, where we invite ten international presenters, festival directors and producers as delegates. In addition to watching CAN shows, the delegates will meet and exchange with artists, practitioners and producers from Singapore and the region. Dance Nucleus also remains an important partner for the development of choreographic practices and networks for independent artists in the region. We will present da:ns lab, an annual artist meeting curated by Daniel Kok, the artistic director of Dance Nucleus. This year's edition is designed as a coaching programme where four choreographers from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and India will work with a mentor to further develop their works and share about their process at the end. VECTOR#5, an exhibition of contemporary performance produced by Dance Nucleus, will return to Esplanade Annexe Studio this year, presenting experimental works from Singapore and the region.


We are excited to bring these very distinct and important Asian voices to our audience, and we look forward to the exchanges and dialogues that will come out of CAN as a key platform for dance and performance from Asia.


Izumi Asakawa
Producer, The Esplanade Co Ltd

Out of Site (6 – 8 Dec 2024)

Leaning into the evolving and open nature of contemporary dance, this weekend adopts a thematic approach and will be framed by a different concept or idea each year that is anchored by compelling international productions.

Salero Flamenco (10 – 12 Jan 2025)

From lightning-fast footwork to intricate hand, arm and body movements, embrace the passion, soul and fervour of flamenco dance performed by some of the best musicians and dancers worldwide. 

Ballet by the Bay (21 – 23 Feb 2025)

A ballet lovers’ weekend of classics and neo-classical works. Be inspired by world-class productions and be introduced to new perspectives on this celebrated art form. 


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