Poised on the Cusp: Transitional Edition for Singapore’s Annual Contemporary Dance Festival with Double World Premiere

SINGAPORE, 11 APRIL 2024, THURSDAY — A month of dancing commences this June with the return of the annual cont·act Contemporary Dance Festival《觸·当代舞蹈节》. Presented by local leading contemporary dance company The Human Expression (T.H.E) in collaboration with national performing arts centre Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, this year’s Festival offers 6 live performances, 26 classes, 4 workshops and a 3-day long intensive from 6—30 June 2024.

This is the Festival’s 15th year of operation, though only its 14th edition due to the pandemic stretching the 11th edition over 2 years. Themed On the cusp, this year’s edition is a highly-focused one with 37 local and international dance artists, highlighting the movement form in its phases of  transition from research, to practice, to performance.

Festival Director and T.H.E’s founding Artistic Director Kuik Swee Boon shares, “On the cusp signifies a year of transition for the Festival. Regular audiences might be disappointed by the absence of some cornerstone Festival platforms, but the Festival has always been a reflection of our commitment to the development of contemporary dance in Singapore, and this has not changed. While we take a transformative step to ensure a sustainable future for the Festival, I am glad to be presenting an edition that is still packed with delightful surprises and insights from talented dance artists at home and abroad. I hope that we will find it a meaningful edition that reveals the connective, bridging power of this embodied art form.”

Faith Tan, Director, Programming (Dance, Theatre, Visual Arts & International Development), The Esplanade Co Ltd shares, “For more than a decade, the Festival has played a vital role in nurturing the growth of contemporary dance in Singapore. Esplanade is pleased to continue the collaboration with T.H.E, welcoming the Festival's two key productions and a 3-day workshop to our venues this year. As the Festival undergoes a transition, this continued partnership underscores our shared commitment to supporting the presentation of new work and facilitating fruitful exchanges for dance practitioners and audiences.”

Highlighting this year’s Festival is Elusive — a double bill by T.H.E Dance Company, comprising new choreographies by acclaimed international artists: Chorales by Kim Jae Duk (South Korea), also T.H.E’s Resident Choreographer, and MALEBRANCHE — Harleking multitude by Ginevra Panzetti (Italy/Germany), one half of performance and research duo Panzetti / Ticconi. Speaking to beauty, transience, desire and wit, the 2 works contemplate the elusiveness of human nature and the sharpness of our human experience. The double bill premieres at Esplanade’s DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre with 3 performances from 28—30 June. 

Also at the DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre is the crowd-pleaser Dance at Dusk, with 3 free performances by T.H.E Second Company. This year’s programme features an excerpt from Water Bloom by Kuik (Singapore/Malaysia), first premiered in 2009, alongside a work-in-progress excerpt from Hawla, a new work slated to premiere in 2025 by T.H.E’s Dance Artist Klievert Jon Mendoza (Singapore/Philippines). Programmed to be accessible for first-time audiences and seasoned contemporary dance enthusiasts alike, this family-friendly programme is also guided by an emcee and a Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) interpreter.

For participants seeking extended opportunities to be immersed in diverse movement practices, this year’s Festival features 2-day and 3-day workshops with the following artists and collectives: Unlock Dancing Plaza (Hong Kong), Kim Jae Duk, and Ravid Abarbanel (Israel/Spain), and Chang Chien-Hao (Taiwan) and Jan Möllmer (Germany). Touching on specialised areas including community dance practices, improvisation and partner work, the workshops culminate in informal sharing sessions by the participants and practitioners. In particular, Chang and Möllmer will be sharing an extended work-in-progress from their first collaboration, What is Danger. Theirs is a 3-day workshop held at Esplanade’s Annexe Studio, while the other 2-day workshops will be at T.H.E’s dance studio.

The Festival will also be running its regular array of classes conducted by its Festival artists as well as invited local independent artists. This year’s lineup offers 26 varied classes ranging from beginner to professional levels to cater to festival-goers of all dance backgrounds. The staple T.H.E Mid-Year Intensive will also be held this year, with participants receiving an all-encompassing experience of technique classes, T.H.E’s signature HollowBody™ methodology workshops, and a chance to apply their learning through repertoire sessions of Kuik’s latest work, Searching Blue.

This edition’s transitional tone is poised as a precursor for next year’s milestone edition as the Festival celebrates 15 short years of impressive achievements in developing local independent artists for the global stage.

Tickets for On the cusp go live on 11 April at 6pm via T.H.E’s website, with early bird promotions happening till 5 May. Full details of each programme and Festival updates can also be found there.

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