Thoughts on RE/PLAY Dance Edit by Ng Yi-Sheng

Writer, Ng Yi-Sheng shared his thoughts with us after catching RE/PLAY Dance Edit on Thursday.

Catch the show if you can! – Ng Yi-Sheng

So you know how the audience started a riot when Stravinsky premiered The Rite of Spring in 1913?

At one point last night, I wanted to do the same thing. Seriously, the fourth or fifth time Obladi Oblada started up, I felt like I was about to start throwing around chairs and ripping up cables and setting the floodlights on fire.

You see, I went into RE/PLAY Dance Edit blind. Tay Tong offered me a ticket and I figured, hey, why not? I didn’t know Junnosuke Tada was engaging in ideas of repetition or anything. All I was prepared for was that it might be weird, as is almost anything that TheatreWorks presents outside a community centre. As I was saying to the arts critic Mayo Martin before the show, “This could be dance, or it could be dance bukan dance…”

And in spite of all Tada’s cute little meditation in the programme notes on Singaporeans refusing to dance in clubs before midnight (“reverse Cinderellas”, he calls us), it really was “bukan dance” for the first hour or so. It wasn’t just the fact that he told the eight dancers to perform non-dance movements–god knows I’ve endured enough contemporary dance works that try and destroy the foundations of their very art form in the name of innovation.

No, it was the cheesy soundtrack on replay. I mean, I can live through two runs of We Are the World, it’s a rousing kitschily epic score, no problem.

BUT TEN ROUNDS OF A 1968 BRITISH WHITEBOY WANNABE REGGAE EARWORM IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.

Mayo says he’s swearing off any music from the Beatles for maybe the next year. Maybe the next century.

I’m kind of grateful, actually, that Tada’s deconstruction of the dance experience does not extend towards the removal of spectacle. Because I could at least continue to examine the eight dancers while they did their coordinated stretching exercises and play boff/marry/kill with them in my head several times over. Gorgeous shadow play from the lighting designer, too, of course.

And after the sixth or seventh round, there’s a kind of resignation that sets in, an acceptance of the misery that is avant-garde entertainment.

That there is nothing but Obladi Oblada.

That there has always been nothing but Obladi Oblada.

And yet what comes out of that is… precious. The dancers rise and re-enact a plausible conversation they might have after the show’s final run: washing up, a buffet celebration, clubbing, getting drunk, talking about the state of the arts in Singapore, about their lives, about how they might never meet again (false promises of a Japanese reunion), and then there’s another dance to a Japanese rendition of Save the Last Dance for Me….

(There’s a gap in my memory here.)

And then the final explosion of full-on disco clubbing music, where everyone goes all out bonkers in a conflagration of genuine bboying and handstands and K-pop dance moves, all that glorious spectacle that so many shows deny you, wow-wow-wowing you in the climax, performers exhausting themselves until they collapse on the floor…

And then they get up and do it again.

And then they get up and do it again.

And I’m not mad at this, partly because it is a good song (it’s in Japanese so I don’t know the title), partly because they are such funky dance moves from performers I feel like I’ve known half my life by now, and I’ve bought into the fundamentals of the show a little more by now.

There’s a wind-down of other dancing before we actual reach the end and curtain call (I for one did not dare to clap until Tay Tong started clapping). But I guess what moves me about this isn’t the structural experiment of climax after climax but the way there’s a sort of charming window here into performers’ lives. How what we as an audience demands is a final beautiful product, but so much of reality is unglamorous repetition, repetition (the French word for rehearsal is in fact répétition), and the god-awful tech runs where you’re not allowed to perform fully cocked, you’re just going through the motions…

And even when the show comes, you give your everything.

And then the next show comes, and you give your everything again.

Did Tada intend that? Maybe? His interview said something about mass suicides and the Kanto earthquake, so… relevant?

And this strange denial of entertainment, and then its final, full-fledged, three times your money’s worth delivery. Torture your audience and then give ‘em a triple O. (Conventional dramatic structure is sometimes said to be phallocentric as it concentrates on a single climax, whereas an experimental piece may imitate a feminine jouissance through multiple climaxes.)

And this strange denial of entertainment, and then its final, full-fledged, three times your money’s worth delivery. Torture your audience and then give ‘em a triple O. (Conventional dramatic structure is sometimes said to be phallocentric as it concentrates on a single climax, whereas an experimental piece may imitate a feminine jouissance through multiple climaxes.)

And this strange denial of entertainment, and then its final, full-fledged, three times your money’s worth delivery. Torture your audience and then give ‘em a triple O. (Conventional dramatic structure is sometimes said to be phallocentric as it concentrates on a single climax, whereas an experimental piece may imitate a feminine jouissance through multiple climaxes.)

And that’s all I have to say really. Catch the show if you can!


TheatreWorks would like to express our thanks to Ng Yi-Sheng for taking the time to share his thoughts with us!

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More sneak peak of ‘RE/PLAY Dance’ Edit!

We have more behind the scenes pictures from our rehearsals of ‘RE/PLAY Dance Edit’.

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Interview with Performer, Sheridan Newman

Sheriden became a principal dancer in 2011 with Asian Comtemporary dance company Maya Dance Theatre in 2011. Since then she has performed extensively in both local and overseas productions. Now Sheridan is teaching ballet and comtemporary dance at LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, as well as performing and choreographing for dance projects in locally and internationally. Sheriden is also embarking on a new dance initiative, along with fellow performer, Sufri Juwahir, called Soul Signature.

“Junnosuke Tada artistic idea for the work sounds very interesting to me, about exploring the body in movement and repetition, but without making it so “dancey” (whatever that means!)”

 – Sheridan Newman, Performer, RE/PLAY Dance Edit

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Interview with Performer, Sufri Juwahir

Sufri began dancing hip-hop at 17 years old. Since then he has won numerous dance competition and expanded his dance vocabulary to include ballet and contemporary dance. More recently, Sufri has ventured into a new dance initiative – Soul Signature, with fellow RE/PLAY Dance Edit performer Sheridan.

“I am always finding new ways of expressing myself through performance and pushing my physical and conceptual ideas of dance”.

– Sufri Juwahir, Performer, RE/PLAY Dance Edit

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Interview with Performer, Jaenny Chandra

Jaenny Chandra has been trained in a variety of dance genres – from ballet, hip-hop, jazz, street jazz, to burlesque and many more.  Marrying her love of dance and fitness together, Jaenny is a certified fitness instructor. She has led a record-breaking number of people in KpopX – a dance fitness workout incorporating Korean pop music and dance moves, at Resorts World Sentosa.

“I quit a stable and well-paying job to pursue my passion in dance and fitness. It’s not an easy decision and a challenging journey but I simply love what I do on a daily basis now”.

– Jaenny Chandra, Performer, RE/PLAY Dance Edit

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Interview with Performer, Elizabeth Loh

Elizabeth is no stranger to being on stage. Trained under two youth theatre programmes, she’s performed both in school shows and production by various theatre company. She sees RE/PLAY as an opportunity to merge together her love of dance and theatre.

“Let your mind be free of doubt and just move”.

– Elizabeth Loh, Performer, RE/PLAY Dance Edit

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