A Preview of "Eudaimonia" ‼️Spoiler Alert
Eudaimonia. A very ambitious theme that was curated into a triple bill of contemporary dance that will be staged at Goodman Arts Centre Blackbox on the last weekend of November 2022. Eudaimonia stems from Aristotle’s conceptualization of the highest good as a human being. We now may be more familiar with the term by Maslow, “Self-actualization”. Essentially, exploring the ultimate question of life: to seek the meaning of one’s being and what it means to reach one’s highest potential.
It was a privilege to watch the preview of the full dress rehearsal in the studio setting. Something that was evident from the entrance into the space was the high energy contributed by each individual into the air. The dancers moved in their warmup session alongside little Emma, a nearly two-year-old Whippet, who was such a gentle and obedient young adult dog. It was a rare scene in Singapore where humans and their dogs share a space in the studio or workspace. The collective gathered by Sigma Contemporary Dance (Sigma Co) strikes onlookers as a group of people burning with passion that drives their movement shared by more than just humans but also its environment.
A collective is delightfully different from, say, a full-time dance company with a set of styles and perhaps branding that although friendly to the audience built over the years, could become predictable at times. It never hurts to be surprised as an audience by something unique that will make our hearts flutter. Sigma Co has the freedom to explore heart-fluttering concepts and themes with the help of its dancers coming from diverse training backgrounds but clearly enjoy each other’s company.
The triple bill opens with Hong Guofeng’s choreography in collaboration with dancers, “Deconstructing the Frameless Mind” set to music by Ahmad Khaliq. Hong expressed his hope, "to investigate [our] relationship with the structure that [we] exist in, and its influence on [us]” by exploring with dancers, the ideal version of themselves in the eyes of society. The visual created was a conceptualized social stigma with a massive frame and neon sticker labels, that signify the many identities each one of us takes on while we, like the dancers, move through the frame as if entering society, and out of the frame, to find “who am I?”
The centerpiece was strategically placed in between two works of total opposites between Hong’s darker and Christina Chan’s lighter tone of seeking the highest good from within. This second choreography was a trio by Marcus Foo in collaboration with dancers set to music by Venetia Lim. "Walk With Me To The End/Beginning", with a very simple set of a long black rope hanging from the ceiling down, dancers dance to verbalized text and poetry while moving constantly in a struggle as if to climb onto their own personal ideals as human beings, between each other, with each other, and sometimes alone. The fragility Marcus was exploring can be felt under the skin with his efficient use of props, bodies, and text.
Christina Chan’s choreography in collaboration with 13 dancers closes the bill. “The Direction of” sets to music by Redwan Hamzah with a surprise raw recording of the sounds made during rehearsal. You not only see the completed piece but also hear the process behind the scene. “The Direction of” is a high-energy work that highlights the current collective’s vibe in a very joyful light and ended that way with children’s toys that seem to mean something to each dancer’s inner child, perhaps a question to be asked during Saturday’s post-show dialogue. Each dancer takes turns to direct the other into both physical and emotional space. They hide nothing in this piece and part of the sound is live raw breath and sighs from dancers which broke the typically intimidating boundaries between performers and audience.
Each piece in this triple bill exploring the theme of Eudaimonia has a very strong concept and impressionable imagery that makes it easier to follow the ofttimes abstract works of contempor