LOOK-SEE @ the FISH in the FLOWER

LOOK -SEE @ the FISH in the FLOWER

Date: May 1999

Venue: Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel
Choreographer: Lim Chin Huat, Tan How Choon

 

Synopsis

DDP celebrated its third anniversary with Look-see @ the Fish in the Flower - a sensory feast that includes strong stage design as well as a foray into the realm of smell.

 

Reviews (2)

“LOOK-SEE” A Dance That Makes You Think

By: Lee Yew Leong
Source: The Flying Inkpot, 15 May 1999

 

Ever wondered what you would do if you were a fish in a tank? Or if you are and that you just don’t know it yet? What validates your experience as a human being? Is it what you see, hear, taste, smell and feel? And above all, have you made the most out of these sensory experiences?

Indeed these are remarkable questions for a dance to pose. The aplomb with which this theme of experience is handled in LOOK-SEE @ THE FISH IN THE FLOWER therefore deservedly marks the accomplishment of an avant-garde performance full of symbols and cinnamon rolls.

That said, this creative production by Dance Dimension Project (DDP) may have promised a titillating feast of senses (it’s well-designed programme insists that while watching, the “audience can also experience more from sight, hearing, smelling, touch”) but other than a faint whiff of cinnamon rolls — those looking for giveaways will be sorely disappointed — the only other sensation which I didn’t expect to experience in a theatre, which I experienced, was the revolting taste of my eye-drop medication (which I applied prior to the dance) settling in at the back of my throat.

But perhaps it was about the synaesthetic experience. If so, yes, I did sit through it feeling overwhelmed because the dance was a veritable parade of symbols, symbols of the different sensory experiences: the lemon, the cinnamon roll, the flower, the candle, and symbols of the senses themselves: the very literal eye as well as the ladder (by which one reaches out for). Come to think of it, the whole thing made a lot of sense. Perhaps, by the end, too much sense, because the whole stage was cluttered with symbols and it made for a very confusing spectacle — even the choreography became somewhat absurdist. Although it was very likely the dance’s intention to evoke by way of metaphor, this wondrously multi-faceted and overwhelming world we live in, the last scene seemed to have sprawled out of control and into the realm of absurdism. Given that the play was almost founded on symbolism I felt that it was a stretch for it to end this way.

Final movement apart, the first and second movements were well-choreographed. The second movement especially, featuring the three talented female dancers in the ‘fish’ segment of the dance, impressed me with its graceful evocation of fish in their environment: fish at play, fish teasing fish and finally fish discovering an eye on their world. (The eye symbol was interestingly deployed in this dance. It also stood for the ego, the ‘I’ that is a result of what one perceives).

DDP is a talented group but it could do with some final professional touches. I’m not talking about the glitches that were attributed to the power failure which resulted in some bewilderment both among the audience and the dancers during the closure of the first movement. I’m not talking about the set which though minimal, was effective. I’m definitely not talking about the inclusion of the three little girls who added a much-welcomed vivacity to the production. I’m talking about the sound quality, which for some reason, made the whole thing feel bootlegged. And I’m not sure why this bothers me so much: there was this one scene where the two female dancers were sitting down, evidently at a picnic. Everything was purposely slow and deliberate from the action of pouring tea, to eating crackers (nice surreal touch, I thought) but when one dancer threw a plum to the other, the slow-motion effect was all ruined because free-falling plums obey the law of gravity. Since they were sitting so close together anyway, why not just hand the plum over? This is a minor detail but it gives a lot away.

All in all though, it was an enjoyable and refreshing experience watching this dance: one brings home lots of thoughts. I kept having to check myself from writing ‘play’ instead of ‘dance’ in the course of writing this review and that I think is already a measure of how thought-provoking and therefore successful this performance was. Keep an eye on DDP, that’s what I say.

 

LOOK-SEE @ the FISH in the FLOWER

By: Firhana Alsagoff
Source: Style Surfers, 25 May 1999

 

I am not one who is big on dance recitals. Aside from the few cultural dances I have seen and other instances when I was the accidental tourist, my experience as an audience of dance recitals have been quite limited. Hence, when I was asked to do a review of Dance Dimension Project’s (DDP) Look-See @ the Fish in the Flower, I was less than enthusiastic.

“Look, what?” I had not succeeded in disguising my lack of enthusiasm. You must admit that the title did seem queer. According to Lim Chin Huat (DDP’s Artistic Director), Look-See extracts from a Chinese proverb meaning, “look at flowers while riding on horseback.” While, Fish is a nonsensical thought whipped up by Tan How Choon (DDP’s Producer) after staring at fishes in the tank. Having asked himself, “How does it feel living in a tank?”, “How’s the perspective like from in there?” and “What if I’m the fish and the fish me?”, How Choon and Chin Huat collaborated for the third time after Plastic (Jan 1998) and ZerO’Clock (April 1996) to produce a dance performance that titillates a feast of senses.

The dance poses many of the questions How Choon had asked himself. Through fluid movements and a parade of symbols, I found myself wondering what I would do if I were a fish; or, what if I am and I don’t know it yet? The scene I found most interesting and though provoking was the one featuring three female adult dancers. I’d like to call this the fish segment (ok, you come up with a better scene header!). The scene impressed me most with its graceful evocation of fish in their environment and finally climaxing to the shocking realization that the eye is watching their world.

Perhaps the most unique element of this well-choreographed piece was the incorporation of different sensory experiences. Unusual and bizarre props like ladders, lemons, baskets, bubble chairs and Cinnarolls (yes, we’re talking about those sweet-smelling, great-tasting, mouth-watering pastry!) were used. As if the colourful visuals were not enough to sustain the audience’s attention, the nose is engaged in a confusing feast of smells – the aromatic candle, the fresh lemon and oh, my God, those sweet-smelling, great-tasting, mouth-watering pastry. And throughout the dance, the audience feels involved in it because not only were our senses alerted, the dancers seem to make full use of the space around them. This had the effect of making one acutely aware of one’s surroundings — in touch with one’s environment. It was like a little adventure for me, and adventure within me.

I don’t pretend to understand all that went on. In fact, the last scene left me quite overwhelmed. Ladders and all filled the stage creating a cluttered spectacle. Even the movements bordered on the nonsensical at this point. I guess it was all done to evoke the various emotions in us even if it seemed as if the choreography had entered the real of absurdism.

Aside form this queer scene, I found the DDP to be a talented group. Also, the inclusion of the three little girls added a much-welcomed vivacity to the production. And I must say it had been a refreshing experience. If by way of metaphor, the dance’s intention was to evoke some kind of reaction from the audience, then it had done its part on me. Right after the dance, I was so seduced by the smells of those Cinnarolls that I dropped by Delifrance for one.

It’s well worth it to look out for future events by Dance Dimension Project

 

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