Floating Mirror (Caution: Hippo Crossing!)

Floating Mirror

Get ready for a bold and highly visual production that blends the expressionistic and the surreal through dance, music, stagecraft and multi-media presentation.

 

Asia Premiere:

Date & Time: 21 – 25 Aug 2001, 8pm

Venue: Victoria Theatre

 

Europe Premiere

Date & Time: 19 Sep 2001, 8pm

Venue: Belgrade International Theatre Festival (Yugoslavia)

 

Synopsis

A bold and highly visual production that blends the expressionistic and the surreal, ”Floating Mirror” explores the psychological state ofurban dwellers as they find themselves torn between their numbed existence and hidden desires. Throughout the performance, the subconscious manifests itself in various forms – dance, multi-media presentation, music, images and stagecraft.

The work draws inspiration from an unlikely source – a crystal-likehippopotamus that ran into the choreographer’s bathroom 3 years ago.

“I watched with amazement as the creature grew from a wispy image to a gigantic shining hippo,” recalls Lim.

“A tear trickled down from her eye and then quickly dropped to the ground. It was a short visit, but that left a very deep impression in my mind. I was moved by the hippo’s sadness, and even more so because the whole incident was an illusion.”

The image of the hippo appears throughout the production in exaggerated forms, as do other elements from the urban landscape. The result is a complex argument that teases the senses and confronts our perception of ’real’ life.

 

 Production Details

Choreographer/Scenic & Costume Designer:
Lim Chin Huat

Music Designer:
Tan How Choon and Samsudin Majid (Freelance Musician)

Projection Designer:
Yap Tyng Shiuh

Lighting Designer:
Yo Shao Ann

 

In the News (1)

 

Of hippos and mirrors

By: Cherylin Tay
Source: getasia.com.sg, 21 August 21 2001

 

Inspiration can hit you in the strangest places, when you least expect it.

And for EcNad’s latest production Floating Mirror (Caution! Hippo Crossing), inspiration came in the form of an imaginary crystal-like hippopotamus that made a brief stop in the bathroom of choreographer, Lim Chin Huat.

Recalled Lim, “I watched with amazement as the creature grew from a wispy image to a gigantic shining hippo. A tear trickled from her eye and then quickly dropped to the ground. I was moved by the hippo’s sadness, even more so because the whole incident was an illusion that left a very deep impression in my mind.”

Sounds like he’s been snorting too much bath soap.

Floating Mirror (Caution! Hippo Crossing) promises a multi-sensory offering and blends dance, multimedia, music, images and stagecraft.

Featuring exaggerated images of the hippo, as well as images of the urban landscape in which we live, the performance by Ecnad Team A will bring you on a journey of discovery, as it explores the psychological state of urban dwellers torn between a numbed existence and hidden desires.

Together with a second dance piece, a-the-bird, the production will make its European premiere on Sept 19, at the 35th Belgrade International Theatre festival. One of the most prestigious festivals in the world, the Festival helped launch the careers of great names that have shaped 20th century theatre history like Jerzy Grotowsky, Merce Cunningham and Meredith Monk.

The Festival places emphasis on traditional forms of Eastern theatre such as Kathakali Dance Theatre or Beijing opera. EcNad will be the first Singapore group to perform at this world-class festival.

Formerly known as Dance Dimension Project, EcNad has come a long way since it was first started in 1996. “Dance” spelled backward, their new name reflects the spirit of innovation and creativity that embodies the group. The new name also signifies a move from an amateur dance society to Singapore’s first full-time contemporary dance company.

The Ecnad dancers are now split into two groups. Ecnad Team A, which performs Floating Mirror, is the professional arm of the company, and comprises eight professional dancers led by artistic directors Lim Chin Huat and Tan How Choon. Team B is made up of amateur dancers from their New Talent Development programme.

EcNad has made a name for itself in the local contemporary dance scene with its unconventional dance outreach programmes to the general public. To date, they have performed in the Bugis Junction fountain, the courtyard of Chijmes and even the atrium of banks.

And with their foray into Europe, EcNad’s star can only shine brighter.

Floating Mirror will make its Asian premiere at Victoria Theatre on Aug 24 (Friday) and 25 at 8 pm. Tickets are priced at $15, $20, $25 and are available from Ticketcharge.

 

Reviews (2)

 

A Coming of Age

By: Chan Kah Mei
Source: The Flying Inkpot, 24 August 2001

 

Floating Mirror reflected a metamorphosis in completion for Ecnad Project, the former Dance Dimension Project. This was their inaugural performance since graduating to the ranks of ‘public company limited by guarantee’ in March this year, aided by the National Arts Council Seed Grant.

This meant a larger stage space at the Victoria Theatre instead of the Substation or shopping centre fountains; it also meant having the event graced by Minister for Information and the Arts Mr Lee Yock Suan and a more well-heeled, international audience.

Despite the change in stature for the pioneer in contemporary dance theatre, it remained close to its principles – minimalist but provocative set ups, opportune use of multimedia, seamless sequences, and not forgetting their trademark water element.

Scene One. Choreographer Lim Chin Huat literally enacts the circumstances under which Floating Mirror was conceived – in the shower. While musing the meaninglessness of urban life he was visited by a tearful hippopotamus. I never thought a hippo could look that good on gauze.

I could not make a distinction between the rest of the scenes, however certain extracts stood out – a beautiful duet by the two artistic co-directors (albeit being a tad lengthy) depicting a dreamlike state. I was particularly amused by what resembled a head banging sequence, used to signify an unleashing of frustration.

Interspersed in between these were urbanites in various modes of work. I sensed a move away from solo performances by Ecnad’s originators and that reflected the maturity of the group. The quintet of Choo Leh Leh, Kon Su Sam, Monique Pillet, Wong Sok Eng and Lim Peck Lee put up a commendable performance, executing more complex movements with greater precision and dexterity.

Yet this rebirth of Ecnad marked only a change in form and not in direction. It needs to move away from the overused themes of memory and desire, barrenness of the urban landscape to perhaps more original ideas. Technique-wise, though the performance is definitely smoother, it seemed to be falling into the trap of set movements. One can almost identify the ‘hugs’, spasms and throws seen in numerous contemporary groups both locally and overseas. I remembered DDP having a more raw and individualistic feel but perhaps this is the result of growing up.

Nevertheless, I applaud Ecnad’s foray into contemporary performances and its vision for grooming new talent. The group has also been invited to perform Floating Mirror at the Belgrade International Theatre Festival in Yugoslavia, renowned for its presentation of experimental performing arts later this year in September.

 

Review of FLOATING MIRROR

By: Vincent Yong
Source: The Arts Magazine Nov/Dec 2001

 

Floating Mirror, the first production after Dance Dimension Project turned Ecnad Project Limited, was pleasant to watch and aroused some intimate thoughts. Artistic co-director and choreographer, Lim Chin Huat, again proved his sincerity in his work.

The misalignment of the walking dancers depicted the mundane life of city-dwellers; tucked-under hips and jutting heads were a clear sign of society’s pressures. Movements were repeated to enhance the idea of city dwellers begin in a vicious cycle. Routine lifestyles were depicted as hard to endure, as Lim’s distorted body illustrated when he turned on the shower and endured the cold of the theatre and water on his half-naked body.

The following scene showed the life of city dwellers and how a day begins with a bus ride to work and the reaction of others. Due to such boring everyday procedures, people seemed like drones indifferent and spatially unaware. This was clearly shown by one of the dancers, who collided with another commuter, but did not show any concern. Two other dancers gossiped incessantly on others’ interests.

The translucent white screen projecting bubbles was tastefully incorporated, with artistic co-director Tan How Choon dancing behind it. The white cloth screen gave an illusive feeling as Tan could be perceived, but not seen. The division of the space between Tan and the rest of dancers depicted the city-dwellers’ removed state, whose only possible escape from the mundane is to dream. Tan’s fluid movements were suitably beautiful and graceful.

The waltz pas de duex gave the feeling of being disinterested. The male started the pas de duex by ‘arranging’ the female; she was like a puppet being manipulated. Her head dropped and the line of her arms broke at the wrist. It was rather sad to watch as it depicted how apathetic we sometimes become; going through routine motions with indifference. The section ended with the female walking away and returning to the male lead and ‘arranging’ him.

A brilliant use of cloth was seen when the scrim gradually rose and took on the projection of office buildings, symbolizing growth of a capitalist world. Together with the attitude of indifference from the dancers, it was a clear message that people are becoming more mechanical with little thought put into their actions.

The pas de duex of Lim and Tan was delightful to watch. They showed excellent virtuosity, strength, and a good understanding of each other’s body. However, instead of using the whole stage, they blocked off more than three-quarters of the upstage and minimized the space for dancing. What was the intention of the blocked-off space many wondered: did it show the congestion of the mind, or the deprivation of the space in a crowded society? In addition, the male pas de duex seemed rather like a divertissement.

The publicity materials repeatedly mentioned a hippopotamus theme, but it wasn’t until the final 20 minutes that the projection of the hippo could have been more poignantly presented as seeing the silhouette projections was not enough to link it to the theme.

An intellectually perplexing act was when Tan bared his derriere; one wondered if there was a message. It was picturesque indeed when the stage was showered with water from above as the dancers continued dancing exposing themselves to the ‘rain’. Only Tan was sheltered by his umbrella. Perhaps he represented truth and honesty to oneself, which prevented him from becoming vulnerable to all life’s mundane problems.

 

VINCENT YONG is a dance student at LaSalle-SIA College of the Arts

 

 

Press Releases (2)

Ecnad Goes To Belgrade

Singaporean contemporary dance group participates in prestigious festival

1 August 2001

Singapore scores another first, this time in the arts.

The 35th Belgrade International Theatre Festival in Yugoslavia has invited Singaporean contemporary dance company, Ecnad Project Limited, to perform two works, a-the-bird and Floating Mirror (Caution: Hippo Crossing!). This is the first time a Singaporean arts group has been invited to participate in the well-regarded festival known for its open-minded and appreciative audiences.

Ecnad Project is Singapore’s leading contemporary dance company and has earned a reputation for cutting edge and highly visual productions.

Having toured regionally for the past few years, Ecnad Project has previously performed in cities such as Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Auckland and Wellington (New Zealand). Ecnad Project’s trip to Belgrade is its 4th overseas tour.

Founded in 1996, Ecnad is Singapore’s first full-time contemporary dance group. Its 6 full-time dancers are led by artistic co-directors Lim Chin Huat and Tan How Choon. Both Lim and Tan received from the National Arts Council the Professional Artist Grant in 1999. Lim also received the Young Artist Award in 2000.

About a-the-bird and Floating Mirror

a-the-bird, performed at the Pavilion at Far East Square last year, explores the human condition in a contemplative, ritualistic-like manner that draws the audience into a deep engagement. The visually moving piece revolves around a large piece of cloth and is set to custom-made pre-recorded sounds and an original musical score played by an unlikely ensemble of keyboard, gong, bell, flute, drums, Australian didgeridoo and Chinese tongqin (a metal bowl used by monks to chant).

Conceptualised and choreographed by Artistic Co-Director Lim Chin Huat, a-the-bird was originally conceived in 1994 and sees its third revision during its Europe premiere at BITEF.

Floating Mirror, a new work from Lim, debuts at Victoria Theatre on 24 and 25 August 2001. It will be performed by Ecnad Team A (E.T. A), the professional division of the company that works on a full-time basis. The production is also Ecnad’s first staged performance since its name change in April this year.

Floating Mirror is a bold and highly visual production that blends the expressionistic and the surreal. It explores the subtle aspects of human relationships in a unique and mesmerising manner. Throughout the performance, the subconscious manifests itself in various forms ­ dance, multi-media presentation, music, images and stagecraft.

The work draws inspiration from an unlikely source ­ a crystal-like hippopotamus that ran into the choreographer’s bathroom 3 years ago. The image of the hippo appears throughout the production in exaggerated forms, as do other elements from the urban landscape. The result is a complex argument that teases the senses and confronts our perception of ‘real’ life.

Floating Mirror will be performed on 17 September 2001 and a-the-bird on 19 September 2001. Both performances are at 8 pm at ATELJE 212 at the Belgrade International Theatre Festival. For more information, please visit www.bitef.co.yu

The Belgrade International Theatre Festival

Founded in 1967, BITEF (Belgrade International Theatre Festival) has survived 35 years as a festival of new world tendencies that keeps pace with the tumultuous evolution of performing arts. The revolutionary 60s and 70s saw avant-garde research make its way into repertory theatres. The 80s was a decade of postmodern theatre expression. From the mid-90s to the present day, theatre continues to explore the limits of human physical abilities, the artistic outlines of which are still hazy.

BITEF is committed to promoting intercultural influences in theatre and is one of the rare theatre festivals in the world that presents avant-garde, experimental and emerging forms of performing arts, as well as large mainstream productions.

A number of the artists who have participated in BITEF in the past were then unknown, or hardly recognized, but have later gone on to shape the history of 20th century dance and theatre.

The list of luminaries include Jerzy Grotowsky, Alwin Nikolais, Ingmar Bergman, Lindsay Kemp, Merce Cunningham, Peter Brook, Robert Wilson, Pina Baush, Meredith Monk and Wim Wandekeybus. The list is but a modest representation of the highly regarded artists who have emerged from BITEF.

BITEF has been awarded by PREMIO EUROPA PER IL TEATRO, Taormina Arte, the SPECIAL PRIZE FOR 1999. BITEF is the first international theatre festival awarded by Premio Europa.

 

From illusion to multi-media dance performance

31 May 2001

Ecnad Project Limited (the former Dance Dimension Project) presents a multi-media dance performance at the Victoria Theatre in August. Conceptualised and choreographed by Artistic Co-Director Lim Chin Huat, “Floating Mirror (Caution! Hippo Crossing)” explores the subtle aspects of human relationships in a unique and mesmerising manner. “Floating Mirror” will be performed by Ecnad Team A (E.T.A), the professional division of the company that works on a full-time basis. The production is also Ecnad’s first staged performance since its name change in April this year.

Ecnad is also proud to have Minister of Information and the Arts, Mr Lee Yock Suan, as the Guest of Honour at the opening night of the Asia Premiere (24 August).

After its Asia premiere at Victoria Theatre, “Floating Mirror” will travel to Yugoslavia in September for its Europe premiere at the 35th Belgrade International Theatre Festival (BITEF), a landmark event for arts groups around the world. This is Ecnad’s second tour performance this year, the first being the Festival of Asia held in New Zealand in March.

Many unknown artists who have participated in BITEF have gone on to shape the history of 20th century dance and theatre. The list includes figures such as Jerzy Grotowski, Merce Cunningham, Robert Wilson, Pina Baush and Meredith Monk. Ecnad is indeed privileged to be among the chosen ones for this year’s festival.

Founded in 1996, Ecnad is Singapore’s first full-time contemporary dance group. Its 8 full-time dancers are led by artistic co-directors Lim Chin Huat and Tan How Choon. Both Lim and Tan received from the National Arts Council the Professional Artist Grant in 1999. Lim also received the Young Artist Award in 2000.

About “Floating Mirror (Caution: Hippo Crossing!)”

A bold and highly visual production that blends the expressionistic and the surreal, “Floating Mirror” explores the psychological state of urban dwellers as they find themselves torn between their numbed existence and hidden desires. Throughout the performance, the subconscious manifests itself in various forms – dance, multi-media presentation, music, images and stagecraft.

The work draws inspiration from an unlikely source – a crystal-like hippopotamus that ran into the choreographer’s bathroom 3 years ago. “I watched with amazement as the creature grew from a wispy image to a gigantic shining hippo,” recalls Lim. “A tear trickled down from her eye and then quickly dropped to the ground. It was a short visit, but that left a very deep impression in my mind. I was moved by the hippo’s sadness, and even more so because the whole incident was an illusion.”

The image of the hippo appears throughout the production in exaggerated forms, as do other elements from the urban landscape. The result is a complex argument that teases the senses and confronts our perception of ‘real’ life.

 

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