Asia was indeed tottering on the edge with dancers on extended platforms along the Cavenagh Bridge and divers on stand-by.
Asia on the Edge 2008 opened on November 28 with a charity gala reception and Origin, a performance piece that had many tourists in bumboats clicking away excitedly. Coloured lights on the bridge glowed to life as the music began. A steady hum of ohm filtered across the river and a globe-like screen ascended. Dancers clad in cultural costumes flitted down the “runways”, some carrying the wayang-wayang (kites in Malay). The chanting grew louder and the dancers moved with precision to the beats.
Noelle Tan of Sixth Sense PR tells us that the segments and “the costumes are influenced by these traditional performing arts and culture of the Asian countries:
Route makers – India (Odissi dance)
Soul engineers – China
Mind farmers – Korea / Japan
History Painters – Indonesia / Malaysia
It was a colourful affair at the Cavenagh Bridge but sadly, the rush of excitement dissipated quickly as the performance was like a clockwork, steady but repeated. Surprising the audience with something more unexpected would have made a spectacular show, but Origin was divided into recurring segments:
1. Music plays while the dancers walk along the bridge, allowing the next set of dancers to take the ‘stage’.
2. Once the dancers are in position for the next act, the music stops.
3. Next track plays, dancers start moving, screen lights up to feature the shadow of one of the dancers.
4. Dance continues while screen shows video installation.
5. Track stops. Dancers stop.
(Return to Step 1)
The dance began in sync, sensitive to the beats with angular body shapes but later on became messy. We could spot some dancers whose movements were more musical than others. Later, we confirmed with the organisers that the dancers were in their late teens to late twenties and started rehearsing from mid October.
- Route makers – student dancers from Bishan CC Indian classical dance group.
- Soul engineers – marital arts students (red/black costumes) from Martial house
- Mind farmers – 2 female professional classical dancers from Korea + individual professional dancers from Singapore
- History Painters – student dancers from Bedok CC
At the end of the performance, the dancers walked off towards The Arts House and the audience standing on the bridge followed them in that direction in hope to see a continuation of the performance… but there wasn’t any.
The first time we viewed the performance, we were standing along Fullerton’s Tome with the other invited guests. However, we wanted to get into the thick of the performance so we viewed the second performance at 9:30pm as well but we stood on the bridge itself to catch more details of the experiential performance.
A representation of Asia’s Arts?
There was not enough publicity for the opening. Compared to the Singapore Arts Festival’s opening which was held in the same area and was fully packed, most of those whom we interviewed were there by chance. There was no announcement to say what the performance was about and that it was starting soon either.
Asia may have kicked off with a shaky edge but we are certain that Asia’s talents will have the opportunity to showcase their works with the various events and seminars happening throughout the week.
Photos by Lynette Lan & Lum Eng Kit