da:ns festival 2021
From 8 – 17 October, da:ns festival 2021 invites you to find new ways to dance during this time of flux, reflection, and change. This edition, held both live in Esplanade and online, offers creative and resilient perspectives of dance. Addressing present realities and its impact on movement and physical touch, the festival also provides opportunities to reconnect to ourselves and each other, and open pathways for dancing into the future. da:ns festival commissions over 35 new creations by leading Singaporean and Asian dancemakers, presents fresh and safe modes of participation for everyone, spotlights innovations for dance on screen, and initiates dialogues on culture and community through dance. This year’s programme is a testimony to the adaptiveness and strength of the human spirit and renewed value of dance to our lives.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the world and the way we move within it. The wider spatial distances between us have resulted in a loss of physical touch and closeness to each other, while prolonged periods of staying at home may have left our bodies stationary and restless. For dance artists, the frequent pauses in training, rehearsal and performances, as well as restrictions to touring and choreography itself have challenged the art form and its livelihood. However, rather than staying still, many dancemakers around the world have resiliently responded by questioning and recalibrating the possibilities of dance and performance in this new reality, and to explore new forms of connection and engagement.
Onwards to the 16th edition of da:ns festival 2021 which therefore presents the proposition of finding new ways to dance – inviting artists and audiences alike to turn their attention towards new perspectives on the body and physical touch, new ways we experience, express and watch dance, as well as the relevance and power of dance, especially so in these challenging times. Presented within four focal points, the festival addresses pertinent developments in dance now, and set us towards open pathways for dancing into the future.
The festival looks inwards to see outwards, to reflect and celebrate how far and diverse our dance scene in Singapore has become in GO LOCAL with over 10 new works and 280 diverse local dance artists. With an open invitation to five leading contemporary dance companies to create new works that represent their identity and artistic direction for the near future, audiences get to experience the distinct practices and expressions of each company at In Good Company – a spotlight on Singapore dance companiesover two evenings. Singapore’s well-loved street dance couple Rachel and Marcus set to face-off their differences in styles, forms and philosophies in FULL OUT! – ScRach vs MarcS, and we invite audiences to be the judge of it. Singapore Dance Theatre also returns with a triple bill of neo-classical ballet and contemporary works, performing against the stunning backdrop of the Marina Bay for the first time.
Propelled by the physical restrictions arising from the pandemic, dancemakers are expanding more into virtual stages and digital realms, which call upon both artists and audiences to see dance THROUGH A NEW LENS, one which presents new artistic approaches and formats, dramaturgies and aesthetics. A prelude to the festival, 14, conceptualised by Chen Wu-Kang and Sun Ruey Horng (Taiwan), virtually brings together 19 independent artists from five countries by real-time livestream transmission, each performing a 14-minute solo in an empty theatre; collaborative yet autonomous, it applies the rituals of traditional theatre, alongside cinematography, live-editing and livestream to explore new performance possibilities. As a work shaped during the pandemic, Manila Zoo by Eisa Jocson (Philippines) takes on a heightened relevance and urgency, confronting the audience with complex issues relating to freedom of movement, exploitation and cultural identity through a hybrid production screened to a live theatre audience. Cineda:ns returns with three evenings of dance films curated by Cinemovement, inviting us to relook this hybrid genre with fresh perspectives. Meanwhile, we are also screening dance films online created by the next generation of local dance artists from students of LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.