A collaboration between Rolypoly Family (Singapore) and Seet Dance (Sydney), bringing young dancers in Singapore and Australia together to connect and create. Led by artists Bernice Lee, Charemaine Seet & Faye Lim. Produced by Natasha Lau.
Young dancers are paired as penpals and accompanied by artist-mentors, exploring the topic of place/displacement. They collaborate online, synchronously and asynchronously, to create a dance work of their own.
Dancing-In-Place: Movement Penpals generates new forms of collaborative dance-making, placing emphasis on the creative genius of children and artistic coping strategies during the thick of the covid-19 pandemic.
Originally planned as a “live” exchange in Singapore between the Singapore-based and the Sydney-based dancers, the young dancers were to have a dance intensive together, and create a performance to be shown first in Singapore, and then in Sydney. The project shifted digitally so as to adapt and persist, in spite of the pandemic and travel restrictions.
The project brings 7 pairs of young dancers from Singapore and Sydney (aged 8-13) together, to collaborate on choreography based on a penpal system. Their interactions and collaborations were all conducted digitally, through online meetups and remote messaging applications.
In an additional layer to this project, 2 dance filmmakers (Ashley Ho from Singapore and Alia Ardon from Sydney) collaborated on a creative documentary, responding to each other and to the young dancers’ creative process. With the penpal format of Dancing-in-Place: Movement PenPals, the young dancers send artistic movement responses to each other, from their homes. Supported by the lead artists’ facilitation, the young dancers are invited to consider their place and their culture, and to create and exchange from such considerations. The penpal system utilises “call and response” as a mechanism for the young dancers to exchange ideas and movement. The lead artists also provided prompts for the young dancers to respond to. The project began with viewing and discussing Trio A with Rabbits, a dance-art performance by Seet Dance (Sydney). It is a work made by Charemaine Seet (director/teacher) and the young dancers in her company, that raised funds for a refugee community in Sydney, and engaged the dance students in conversation about the plight of children caught in the middle of political conflicts, i.e. refugees around the world. Trio A with Rabbits increased the young dancers’ awareness and ability to talk about the displacement of individuals and families. The work took inspiration from “Trio A with Flags,” an iconic work by Yvonne Rainer that was her way of bringing to light the injustices of her time.
The model of collaboration is intentionally intergenerational in this project. Though Bernice, Charemaine and Faye guide, facilitate and meet gaps in knowledge, there is also deliberate space made for observing and learning from the young dancers and dance film-makers – especially gaining insights into the younger generations’ relationships with art and their approaches and methodologies for artmaking. This project is held together through digital exchanges, and the young dancers’ and dance-filmmakers’ identities and dexterities as digital natives also drove the project.
Check out the programme trailer here.
Also check out the facebook page here.
The original idea was that the legs are going around the same place but it’s like the full revolution of the circle and then it starts walking and then a moving gallery of different inspirations come through. And so I was just thinking about what it means to walk through digital space, and in a way, I feel like that’s what Dancing-in-Place turned out to be like. We didn’t know it would be, but the kids were kind of walking and dancing in different places at different times and being in the same place together in some way.
– Alia Ardon, one of Dancing-in-Place’s two filmmakers, and creator of Our Beautiful Logo.
Interested in knowing more about this programme or the creative documentary?