By Calista Chong (18A01A), Lynn Hong (18A13A) and Yeo Kee Hwan (18S03Q)
The dancers gathered in a circle, their eyes drawn in intent concentration toward their captain as they rallied for what would be the culmination of months of hard work. On 28 April, RJ Modern Dance performed at the Kallang Theatre for the Singapore Youth Festival.
As the minutes ticked by, the dancers waiting to be called were locked in intense focus. The other school’s raucous group practises and cheers hardly fazed them. Instead, they polished their moves individually with their earbuds in. As the time of their performance neared, they began to practice in smaller groups, mostly amongst those who shared a similar pattern of choreography for the opening sequences. Soon after that, it was time for their performance to begin.
Andrea Cher (18S07B) took the stage, greeting the audience before introducing their performance. Its title is “Passing”, which depicts the inexorable rhythm of time with hurried leaps and inching crawls, through the fast and the slow seasons of life.
The music starts on a languorous note, the spotlight a bare white light on the dancers as they drift, poised and graceful onto the stage, like the opening scene of a French film; a romantic black-and-white vignette. The dancers begin to move: slowly, like statues in a courtyard come alive.
All of a sudden, they all leave the stage, and there is a moment of stillness before a group of dancers emerge from the wings, pausing to turn and stare contemplatively at the audience. Then the moment is over, and the music builds, with a layer of light trills dancing over the main motif injecting vivacity into the performance as a new group of dancers runs onstage.
True to their theme of ‘passing’, they alternate between large movements in fluid shifts of formation, and running across the stage in ever growing numbers. They move like marionettes, controlled yet lively. This was a performance showcasing their technical ability and muscle control, their disparate movements synchronising to form perfect formations.
With every layer the music grows in complexity, and every new set of dancers capturing a different nuance, with movements measured or energetic, languorous or jerky, strolling or sprinting across stage, or twirling or leaping. The music rolls to a dramatic climax, the stage a fevered kaleidoscope of dance with every dancer breaking into individual spontaneity.
This was the part where Chelsea Li (17A03A), one of the performers, found most memorable, noting that “it really captures the idea of “passing”, portraying the liveliness of our everyday world, with so many different lives and stories passing by each other”.
The music closes on a slow dolorous note, the girls moving statues once more. As they pause in their movements, the lighting changes from a cold blue to a warmer yellow, almost as though it were adding a touch of life to their still figures. Then they leave, one by one, the light stark against them. The music peters out on the honeyed wings of the main melody, drawing to a bittersweet close. They freeze mid-motion, before drifting off the stage individually, till the lights dim and the stage fades to black.There was a momentary sense of loss as the dancers disappeared one by one, as though they had indeed left behind another stage of life by the conclusion of their item, while the audience was left to ponder whether they were on their way to doing the same.
Leaving the audience stall was much like walking out of a cinema; and not just because of the sudden change in lighting.
Much like how one would mull over the distinct themes and style of arthouse films, this performance, with its unique subject matter and style was bold and evocative. This earned more than appreciative applause; like most art aspires to, it also provoked audience members to ponder upon the significance and instances of passing.
Particularly in as fast-paced a society as the one we live in, it is especially close to home, with things and people entering and leaving our lives in such rapid succession we often neglect to treasure them for what they are until we turn around to find them gone.
To unpack such a complex theme for a showcase performance, the dancers’ skills and styles were also extremely crucial. The avant-garde approach that was chosen was a refreshing take on the theme, and coupled with the synergy and technique that each of the dancers had displayed, came together to make a performance that captivated the audience from start to end.
After the mesmerizing performance, the dancers streamed out of the hall, looking visibly relaxed. Where they had been huddled in nervous anticipation before their time on stage, the dancers were now embracing each other in good cheer after a performance well delivered. Even before the results were known, they appeared much less tense now, greeting friends that had come to support them and soaking up the warm atmosphere, knowing that the effort they had put into an art they loved would come to fruition.
As Chelsea concluded: “It was a performance we should all be proud of because it showed how much we grew together as a CCA and a family. On stage, [we took] pride in our art and the [effort] we put into choreographing and practising, and I’m really proud of everyone [for that].”
Raffles Press congratulates Modern Dance on attaining a rightful Certificate of Distinction!