Four and A Half Rebels

Four and A Half Rebels

Singapore

Date: October 1999

Venue: Guinness Theater, The Substation

Indonesia

Date: October 1999

Taman Budaya, Yogyakarta

Malaysia

Date: May 2000

The Actors Studio Theater, Kuala Lumpur
Choreographer: Lim Chin Huat

 

Synopsis

In this thought-provoking performance that portrays the human life cycle, audiences decide how various segments of the dance should unfold for each performance. Four and A Half Rebels travelled to the Modern Dance Interaction II in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in late October 1999 and was performed at The Actors Studio Theatre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in May 2000.

 

In the News (1)

 

Audience, are you ready?

Source: Life!, 14 October 1999

You may feel a little uneasy watching Dance Dimension Project’s latest offering, Four And A Half Rebels.

But the contemporary dance group is not worried because that is the effect it wants in its experimental show, which opened last night at The Substation’s Guinness Theatre.

Four And A Half Rebels is not your usual sit-back-and-relax type of dance.

“It is basically an interactive dance which somewhat depends on audience participation and its reaction to the dancers,” says artistic director and choreographer, Lim Chin Huat, 30.

The dance is divided into three segments -Animal, Space and Forest. Lim explains that some people in the audience will be picked out, at random, to determine the sequence of the performance by pointing at three flagpoles, each representing the different segments.

“Like some adventure-mystery book, the sequence and outcome of the dance are in the hands of the audience.”

Lim believes that it is this audience participation that makes Four And A Half Rebels unique, and in a way, “rebellious”.

“It’s just not what you’d expect when you go to watch a dance performance,” he says.

The dance explores the complexities and drudgery of daily life, says the group’s producer and resident dancer Tan How Choon, 29.

He adds that it also deals with issues such as what is real and what is make believe, and the need to have change in one’s life.

With such intense themes for a dance item, the three-year-old ensemble has decided to keep its sets to the minimum.

Black walls and five dancers in earth-toned costumes, dancing to world and New Age music is all you will get to see during the one-hour performance.

“Other than for practical reasons, we have decided to use clean and simple sets because they act as a good contrast to the different characters portrayed by the dancers,” says Tan, who is also trained in gymnastics.

“Having minimal props also allows the dancers more space to interact with the audience.

“That’s the beauty of interactive dance, it is a creative and versatile art form.” Substation’s Guinness Theatre tonight, tomorrow and on Sunday at 8 pm. Tickets at $16 and $14 (groups of five or more) from TicketCharge outlets.

 

Reviews (4)

Calming Performance With Minimalist Charm

By: Chan Kah Mei
Source: The Flying Inkpot, 13 October 1999

 

Dance Dimension Project’s final performance for the millennium pays tribute to the eternal relationship between man and his surroundings. It was a fine mix of drama, music and movement; though the dance was less ‘rebellious’ than I had expected. In fact, it calmed my flustered nerves, the result of eight hours at work.

The Guinness Theatre was filled with the usual DDP crowd of young 20- somethings, students and expatriates with their kids (good example of art education from young). Four And A Half Rebels was performed with their trademark minimalistic backdrop. The stage was naked except for black textured walls and gauze veils.

The five dancers, all veterans and founders of Dance Dimension Project gave a polished performance, more so than the previous talking dance series. They each bring their special style to the piece. I believe I have begun to spot them – Leh Leh with contortionist, fluid movements, How Choon with traditional balletic jumps and turns, Guay Chiou and her flowing arms. Peck Lee, well, she reminded me of Ursula the sea witch from Little Mermaid, what with her big skirt and puffy hairdo!

Choreographer Lim Chin Huat wanted the dance to depict “the relationship between nature and human beings through the portrayals of different characters”. Like most of their former pieces, this was in the form of dance theatre or Tanztheatre. Ideas are brought across in dramatic segments, integrating sound, visuals, text and dance. This time, I found the visuals, lights and props enhancing the performance rather that being distracted by them, as I was the last time. They danced to music made up of different vocals and drumbeats, ranging from aboriginal chants to haunting Slavic tunes. Though we were not supposed to derive a chronological storyline, the segments graduated from a lone being, to exploring concepts of space and nature and finally on to change and a calm.

I especially liked how the different dancers moved, sometimes randomly in expressive movements. Other times leaping in unison like gazelles, free in the plain. But the fluidity of the piece was jarred by some flaws (I hope they were not part of the choreography). There were these long dark pauses where you can hear the stagehand plopping across the stage in his squeaky shoes, removing props. Then there was ‘Ursula’, shouting some gibberish for us to make a Choice about which segment – Space, Animal or Forest – we wanted to see. I felt it was unnecessary.

Four And A Half Rebels is actually a reproduction of a similar piece four years ago when Lim was nursing an ankle injury. (spot the reference in the dance!) It is also a reflection of individual dancers’ life experiences. The dance will also be performed in Indonesia and Malaysia.

 

STILL BOUND- FOUR AND A HALF REBELS was a self-professed rebel without a casual clue

By: Deng Fuquan
Source: The Flying Inkpot, 15 October 1999

Every scenographic element in the performance rendered a fable landscape in paen to Nature: lights of drowsy hues, gently-creased walls, ethnic soundscape, costumes evoking natural elements – even the dancers’ wind-tossed hair.

The hour-long dance mapped an oft-familiar journey from mundane Man to celebratory Nature, then alienation between the two, and the inevitable angst arising from this gulf.

The Prologue discovered the quiet image of a girl cleaning the floor. Thunder sounded to music by Kronos Quartet, and bodies burst in successively as various representations of Man and Nature.

This initial procedure was smooth until a gyrating dancer – swishing in a caramel-cum-cream full dress and grey tights – intruded the audience and spoke in gibberish.

Signifying some wild Nature force throughout the show, she invited the audience to choose in random the sequence of part of the evening’s structure. The chance chronology as it turned out: Forest, Space, then Animal.

This triptych was thematically coherent insofar as it explored the relationship between Nature and Man, their symbiotic roles and other eco-anthropological formations – mostly hackneyed.

Arms undulating to relentless music of New Age religiosity, the dancers transfigured as trees. Now they also affected gazelles by animating serial leaps. A solo dancer carved the space with facile curves, denoting the spirit of flow and cycle that any space dear Nature avails.

Meanwhile, still innovating with her whirling dress, earnest in self-sensuality and seeming meaning, the gyrating dancer switched between erratic wildness and paradoxical life-giving force.

Out of the blue, stage managers emerged to remove props and disrupted the lighting harmony – a singular intervention that never repeated. While other discernible repetitions suggested some control in design, they were functional, never revelatory nor even reflexive in autonomous logic.

In the face of simplistic complexity and surface excess, it mattered little to the spectator if units of parts or the sum of parts were related in any continuity. The entire choreographic structure threatened to be obscured even if it was not self-connected, however loosely.

In a supposedly deep-felt scene, one dancer – removed of his crutch and now wheel-chair bound – contorted with mouth agape, contracting spasmodically in tandem with an escalating violin screech. This torment he ended by tinkling an upraised bell.

Closing the show, the same dancer crawled and struggled in evident self-pathos – the impotent half-rebel left behind, see – while his other 4 comrades placidly paraded stage-length to the unmistakable beat of ethnic muzak.

FOUR AND A HALF REBELS was a reprisal from 1995, with modified choreography. Having found irresistible effects, the ongoing process must self-revolt by deepening the track for fundamental cause and motivation.

 

Mesmerising Performance of Dance Asia in Yogyakarta

Source: Jateng Pos, 2 November 1999
(translated)

A dance performance given by artists from Japan and Singapore managed to captivate the Yogyakarta audience hungry for top quality performances.

The performance titled The Asia Modern Dance Interaction 2, features five choreographers from Asia. From Japan, Kohzensha Butoh Company, namely Maki Nakano and dancers, and Izumi Nagano. From Singapore, Dance Dimension Project and lastly from Indonesia represented by Bimo Dance Theatre.

The event was held for 2 days on 30-31 October 99, at the Gedung Societet Militer Yogyakarta. Says the Managing Producer Sunardian Wirodono, “this event is an interesting arena for interaction between dancers from Yogyakarta and the other countries.” Bimo Wiwohatmo, the artistic director adds on that an event like this opens up the creative ideas of artist from the various countries. He says, “In example, Izumi Nagano dancers from Japan and Yogya dancers with their different cultural background has the opportunity to learn new things.”

Six compositions will be seen in this two days event, with the 1st day for Butoh from Kohzensha Butoh Company, Maki Nakano and Dancers, Izumi Nagano and Yogyakarta Dancers and Bimo Dance Theatre.

Each dance number is given a strong sense of unlimited creative dimension. As in the case of Dance Dimension Project which not only covers the whole theatre for their act but also build an interaction with the audience itself. Even the stage crew was involved, a scene regardless of who is the audience or cast.

In Izumi’s number the clement of aroma therapy is used, benefiting the aroma therapy capability of one of her dancers.

In no denying fact that this event organised by CIFOR (Cultural Interaction Forum) fully satisfied dance fans in Yogya. As over heard in the audience “there should be more performances like this so that it will liven up the dance movement here and also updating the dance public in Yogyakarta with the latest in modern dance” a comment full of hope for dance artist.

 

The Asia Modern Dance Interaction 2

Harmonious Gathering

Source: SOLOPOS, 2 November 1999
(translated)

A collaboration of dancers from Asia has been a normal event. Especially when the same vision is shared. In fact the meeting signals a step ahead in dance art, as seen at The Asia Modern Dance Interaction 2 held at the Gedung Societet Militer Yogyakarta on Saturday and Sunday 30-31 October 1999.

Five choreographers from Indonesia, Japan and Singapore (Bimo Wiwohatmo, Yukio Waguri, Makiko Nakano, Izumi Nagano and Lim Chin Huat) summed up every movement in this inspiring event. Their cultural backgrounds can be clearly seen in their dances.

This is a second interaction after the first one last year in the same city. And according to the Managing Producer Sunardian Wirodono to the Espos, it should have been a bigger event called The Asia Pacific Modern Dance Interaction if not for the state crisis and economical situation.

Inside Look
The Asia Modern Dance 2 was a result of intensive planning, workshop sessions and joint rehearsals done by the choreographers and dancers involved in Parangtritis Yogyakarta performance, thus came the idea for The Asia Modern Dance 1 in Yogyakarta last year. The enthusiastic spirit of the performance is captured from the choice of themes, movements, theatrical set-up, music and artistic quality, presenting the delicate shade of difference in this special event. A meeting that has been given full of effort, dominated with contemporary art, the choreographers¹ exploration experience felt in every number. As in the composition of ŒAh¹ by Bimo Wiwohatmo with the powerful movements and energetic performance by the dancers from Indonesia and Japan.

Says Bimo, “the word ‘Ah’ has various meanings, depending on the sound and use of it.” Bimo¹s ‘Ah’ reflects a spontaneous expression that suits the final outcome of the uncertain situation close to us in our motherland. In Kupu-kupu di Gigir Waktu by Makiko Nakano portrays the classic problems of women. The ballet performed by 3 Japanese dancers represents suppressed emotions, desires, ambitions and the ups and downs of a woman¹s heart in a male dominated world.

A touch of Butoh (traditional Japanese dance derived from a national folklore ­ red) is seen in Yukio Waguri¹s Bone of Earth. Butoh dances far from modern ballet or traditional dances as it emphasises on its slow yet expressive movements. This lengthy performance is divided into three parts. Each part is displayed in a theme ending with an abrupt stop like a death of a mystery unknown to any man except the Almighty. The dancers are covered in white paint to symbolise themselves as empty vessels that can contain any form of matter in the universe.

As in the composition of Singapore’s Lim Chin Huat¹s Four & A Half Rebels, the audience is faced with a mind stimulating performance.

A dance that is done with a strong sense of character and delicate movements, this dance also makes us ponder on what is fact or fiction.

With the whole theater opened to the act showing that dance can happen anywhere. Even the stage crew is involved, will this mean that the audience is a part of it too?

 

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