I’ve been postponing this post (HAH!) about the rest of the visual arts displays at the Esplanade.
Look! It’s the rest of Moe Kasim’s costume exhibit at Library@Esplanade! These are costumes from Royston Tan’s “881″.
As I said before, it’s classier to use mannequins that don’t have painted eyes. Painted eyes look either tacky or unheimlich.
His name is Pichet Klunchun.
He is a master of Khon.
He says was intrigued by Vaslav Nijinsky’s take on Thai dance in the scarcely documented Danse Siamoise of 1910.
So he made Nijinsky Siam which premiered at the Singapore Arts Festival of 2010.
He was awesome.
He first showed us many old photographs. They didn’t have any colour, but were laden with stories. The first ‘company’ of dancers and musicians who took traditional Thai dance to Europe. Cut to photos of Nijinsky, the legendary dancer of Ballet Russes in an ornate costume and a presumably Thai hand gesture. A possible connection through Diaghlev, the founder of Ballet Russes who saw the Thai company perform in Europe. More of Nijinsky’s images. This time not just on photographs but also on shadow puppets (nang yai). The photographs were old, blurred, of poor resolution, limited by the technology available then. The puppets were crisp, intricate and alarming in detail, created by the craft that is still alive today. The puppets were ferryed on the shoulders of three dancers Phadung, Sunon and Pichet, while the fourth lay still in the photograph, Nijinsky. The four kindly introduced themselves by their first names. Then together they began suggesting, what would soon become a poignant story.
The three men began locating within their tradition, the images of Nijinsky’s interpretation of their tradition. An exercise in imaginative reverse engineering. Why couldn’t Pichet have taken on this task as a solo, since this is afterall his dialogue with Nijinsky? The question lingered even as the man exited the stage, leaving behind Sunon, Phadung and Nijinsky ofcourse, this time in a new photograph where he is captured in air, leaping. Sunon and Phadung sat cross legged facing eachother while Nijinsky faced us, frozen in his mid air accomplishment. The two other men decided to have a go at it too. What ensued was a stiff competition of alternate leaps, challenging eachother with height, effortlessness and some comedy while at it. The question of why Pichet couldn’t have done this by himself answered itself. Apart from the fact that the man might just look silly jumping up and down on stage by himself, he had summoned Nijinsky as a fourth dancer therby completing the set of four characters danced in Khon: the man, the woman, the demon and the monkey.
He was smart, and just as I realized this, as if patiently waiting for my personal ephiphany, Sunon and Phandung excused themselves from stage, Nijinsky’s screen was dramatically pulled away. And behind it, there he was again. Pichet Klunchun. He was beautiful. Framing himself in a captivating set of painting and residues of Nijinsky’s images, he danced a dance in resplendent garb and music. Not much lucid memory of that dance remains. I only recall a faint numbing feeling of awe. And then in the most humble and refined manner, he reminded us that his name is Pichet Klunchun.
[Ed: This review is up late due to uploading problems.]
Filmed at “Mega Line Dance” at Central Promontory on 13 June at about 6:30pm.
I also have photos of a 9 year-old girl who won a “neck massager” from SAF corporate sponsor, Action City. Surely a 9 year-old girl doesn’t know how to “massage” her “neck” yet?
Plus I have a video of Acting Minister for Information, Communications & the Arts Lui Tuck Yew dancing the electric slide. But maybe I won’t post that one, given that it would just strengthen the PAP’s political hegemony.
It gives me great pleasure to be ‘reviewing’ two musically-theme productions from the Singapore Arts Festival, Manganiyar Seduction and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields & Joshua Bell. Reviewing is in inverted commas as writing reviews is not really forte. As you can see my review for Manganiyar Seduction is thoroughly overdue, and after writing almost 5 drafts, I have given up being someone who I cannot be; impartial and void of biased perspective. Furthermore I am not musically inclined, not professionally at least but I will do my best, at honesty. So I invite you, with open arms, to have an open mind as you read what will transpire of this moment, pertaining past events.
19 May 2010
If you have read my previous post you’ve known that I accidentally on purpose, watched the trailer which left me rather informed of what I was going to catch. Relying on physicality and the concept of existentialist variation was risky, but all preconceived notions dissipated once the lights in the Esplanade theatre dimmed, and the first long note, of the khamaycha (bowed lute) ushered me from afar. (more…)