top of page

Frontier Danceland's Milieu 2022, A Preview

Take a moment to imagine, a world without the self.

Now, imagine a world without the environment.

Take a moment to listen, to the sounds: outside, inside, implicit, and explicit. Does it come from within the self or from without, the environment? “Listening…” created by guest choreographer and long-time collaborator of Frontier Danceland, Loke Soh Kim, will prompt you into a multi-sensorial opening of Milieu 2022, the annual year-end double bill to be set on Esplanade Theatre Studio from 9-10 December. The double bill closes with “Incessant”—a cross-cultural work co-created by artistic director, Low Mei Yoke and Irene Kalbusch, artistic director of Compagnie Irene K. They will take you on a parade of traditions reimagined in the contemporary world, specifically the Chinese and Rhineland traditions.

Photo credit: Crispian Chan, courtesy of Frontier Danceland

“Listening…” will be set to music unset by Ng Chor Guan to allow for authentic listening to happen between movement and sound. Ng will be present for all three performances and he will be starting the piece with his sound improvisation which is a very logical choice befitting the title of the work engaging audience into the state of listening. As with many contemporary dance works that are more minimalistic, the dancers clad in plain loose clothing of faded red, blue, and green, start in isolation with barely any interaction with one another. They were really challenged by Kim to listen with the whole of their being to bring the work to life. It is a risky approach, but a risk worth taking as a simple yet elegant way to bring the audience into the work, to not just be a spectator, but a participant, too.

The participation begins from the start, whereby one cannot help but hear the dominating sounds leading to the bodies of the dancers in space. The unique personalities of each dancer as human beings started to shine as the piece progressed with the autonomy of movement given to the dancers within the structure set by Kim. Their preferred movement styles, training background, and even what they might be feeling can be “heard”. While the piece is very minimalistic, just pure movement and sound, the overall dynamism is achieved when the dancers begin to interact in spontaneous duets and trios crossing paths with collision and total synchronization.

Courtesy of Frontier Danceland
Photo Credit: Crispian Chan, courtesy of Frontier Danceland

“Incessant” seeks to bridge cultures that relate to one’s sense of identity and belonging based on both co-choreographers' extensive experience and personal backgrounds with Low in Chinese dance and Kalbusch’s Rhineland ancestry. The movement quality and narrative of the piece reflect the complexity of the many dialogues between Low and Kalbusch. There were layers of intense conformity, oppression, resistance, confusion, comedy, insanity, and acceptance… all of which ended up in the articulation of affection, the strongest of all, “I love you”. In a world that is rapidly changing and the cultural differences unifying through globalization, the piece urg