Friday, October 13, 2006


Reading some stuff on the internet and found this video clips of actors rehearsing Meyerhold's biomechanical exercises, then to share with you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"No More Good Guys"

Many people liked the music I had used in my piece titled "Unrequited", which was Skindive's "No More Good Guys". And almost as many had asked me where I had found it.

Here's a post I found that references the music back to the TV episode of Queer As Folk, where I had first heard the piece.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

contengan corak lantai

Found these lying around. I know it's after the fact, tapi takpe lah. Thanks once again for your work.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

You put your right foot here and…

The workshop was very invigorating and I had continually looked forward to it. What I liked best was its ambition. It appeared to be so insane at times – I am not a dancer/choreographer/site specific performer…that it left me with no sense of reason and hence liberating since can somewhat “hentam”

The environment was also encouraging, mainly from the willingness of the group to let me explore, make mistakes and especially to accept that yeah I really don’t know what I want until I see it. And I think you do need sessions like that, hopefully don’t succumb to too many!

I also liked the getting in shape part of the workshop because either than group pressure, I have really no reason to do 100 abdominal crutches.

The stressful bits were trying to fit the “class” sessions with Marion and translate that into a visible choreography. Later it became apparent that the sessions were effective tools for the creative process only when actively used with the group. So perhaps I don’t really need more time, but needed to use the earlier sessions to really start forming the piece. It would be helpful if I had decided on my sense of theme (which should be allowed to change) and to be conscious of it during all sessions with the group. So maybe that could have been emphasized in the workshop – creating is tough, so start exploring with the group from the beginning.

I would have also appreciated more feedback. Namely for the creativity process I was going through. I think this is essentially a creative workshop and would have liked more questions, comments, things that make me go hmm…using movement as the medium to create…Until I know what I want, I suppose…then y’all mah bitches.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Kakiseni review, 12 July 2006.

Take The Lead
Choreography for non-choreographers: The dance of democracy

by Kathy Rowland

Can I use the word “inscrutable” to describe an ethnic Chinese man without being accused of resorting to cliché?

Because inscrutable is really the adjective that springs to mind when I think of James Lee, the chess master, moving bodies like pawns in Myra Mahyuddin's A Sleepwalker in Transit, on a rainy Sunday afternoon outside Central Market.

Not stoic, not impassive, and God forbid, not neutral. Inscrutable.

See, the problem sometime with trying to avoid the pitfalls of cliché is that it can deprive you of the most appropriate, concise way of describing something.

I felt that as I watched the performance that resulted from the Choreography for Non-Choreographers workshop, helmed by Marion D’Cruz of Five Arts Centre. Organised as part of a year-long series of workshops under the ‘Krishen Jit Experimental Workshop Series 2006’, CNCW saw 11 individuals, none of whom had any formal dance training, work with choreographer Marion D’Cruz over six weeks towards a public performance in a site specific space.

The CNCW clearly follows on the success of Marion’s earlier work using non-dancers in dance. Such wilful disregard for genre is of course, not new. Having first surfaced in the hothouse of the 60s, it has in fact suffered the fate of all innovation – institutionalisation. It nonetheless remains a useful means of freeing dance from the confines of bodies schooled in a particular movement vocabulary. If I can use a sports analogy, imagine teaching Thierry Henry to dive. How does the agility, speed, and stamina required of a field sport transform itself into the singular moment of control and release in diving? If you can get past imagining Thierry in Speedos, you’ll see what Marion, in another context, was getting at.

CNCW is framed within this trajectory – a democratisation of the process of choreography. It can be argued that choreography is perhaps less codified in its publicly accepted meaning than dance is. The term itself, while originally used to describe dance notation, is, today, easily applied to any deliberate act of creating a situation, movement, and action. Presumably, this makes it more readily entered upon by those not formally trained in it.

Furthermore, if you accept that all movement is thought, then it can be argued that choreography is the deliberate objectification of that thought, into a process of creating movements whose ultimate aim is to draw attention back to the thought that determines the movement.

With all of this spinning in my head, I arrived to James Lee’s “Will you Please Be Quite Please?”, the first of 11 pieces, all strung together by Marion to form a 55-minute non-stop performance. With its dependence on verbal rather than physical movement, it was an interesting choice to open the show with. Phrased as request-demand-implore-retreat, the piece was marked by an apparent randomness of movement that in fact is structurally designed to lead June and Gabrielle into direct confrontation with each other. The group then forms a cocoon into which the plaintive voice of dissent “I will not be quite please” voiced by Gabrielle, retreats, thereby immediately relegating her counter stance as an act of capitulation rather than defiance. It was an in-your-face beginning that unfortunately, fizzled out into a nothingness almost immediately. Opening gimmick rather than opening piece perhaps best describes it.

The next piece, Gabrielle Low’s “24 minutes in Kuala Lumpur, 64 minutes in Jakarta” explored the variances of income and spending power between the two cities. While perhaps predictable in its use of the ubiquitous icon of American imperialism, the Big Mac, the piece was conceptually sound, and successfully distilled the statistics of inequality and CPI into a delightful depiction of gluttony. June Tan’s “Cita-Cita Saya”, was of a piece with Gabrielle’s in its look at the creation of collective consumer desire. Both pieces also neatly reconfigured everyday movement into the performative through repetition and exaggeration, which – and this is important I think – spoke in a humorous and direct manner to the Central Market crowd.

Vernon Adrian Emuang’s “Unrequited” takes as its departure point the dilemma of the non-bumiputra Malaysian. Structured as a slow moving ensemble of layered bodies shadowing a leader, the work evoked a strong sense of ritual which develops into a kind of collective miasma. While it perhaps adequately comments on our willingness to subjugate ourselves in the hopes of gaining acceptance, it failed to fully develop the twin emotions of desire and rejection that is at the heart of this relationship between non-bumiputra citizen and state. I have to say that the opening gesture of the daulat made me physically cringe – talk about a cliché that can be done without.

The conundrum of course is that as boundaries of genre and form become more and more blurred, the old markers of ‘dance’, ‘physical theatre’, ‘theatre’ becomes increasingly unreliable. One is generally reluctant to say that something is this or that, or is not this or that, for fear of being exposed as hopelessly conventional.

As I watched the performance though, that word ‘dance’, like ‘inscrutable’, kept insinuating itself to me.

Many of the works, or particular movements within pieces, drew a direct line back to the conventions of both traditional and modern dance – the hold and release, the lifts and rolls, the cluster and scatter.

It appeared that rather than utilise their non-choreographic sensibility within the realm of choreography, the participants choose instead to work within the safety net of their newly acquired knowledge of dance movements. Too few of them broke free from the accepted idea of choreography and its relationship to existing images/movements of dance. It seemed like a missed opportunity to use their outsider status to energise the act of choreography, and dance.

“Damaged” by Adrian Kisai for example seemed like a primer on contemporary dance movements – from stupor to frenzy, from contortions to cartwheels, from loose pairings to strict oppositional structures – but begged the question: to what purpose?

Likewise, Hari’s “Don’t Wake Me Up, I’m Sleeping”. While it transitioned beautifully from the preceding piece by Kim (“The More We Get Together”) like an unfolding flower of bodies, it then committed the unforgivable sin, in my mind at least, of using silat movements in its lament of the lack of personal courage in the face of great evil. Perhaps there was a time when such use was revolutionary, relevant, necessary, etc. Today, it is the dance equivalent of “muddy bunga”, to quote a recent attempt at musical theatre.

I was also disappointed that despite the much-bandied about 'site specific' claim, none of the works actually engaged with the dynamics of the public space in a meaningful way. In fact, almost all the works were confined to the square dance lino set on the pavement.

A further complication, a fundamental one at that, was the fact that the pieces were performed by the participants of the workshops themselves.

Predictably, Mark, who is the most experienced performer of the lot, was the most watchable. The dynamics of performance in improvised spaces also seem to fit his demeanour particularly well. He has an angular rigor mortis frenzy (you have to see it to comprehend the oxymoron), which was put to good use in Hari’s, Gabrielle and Pang’s pieces. June Tan may be a performance virgin, but she has the kind of chutzpah that makes her a natural on stage. She turned in a highly sympathetic performance in the opening piece, and again in Gabrielle’s and Pang Khee Teik’s works. The revelation for me however was Myra Mahyuddin. She has a certain self-contained power on stage that makes you watch her carefully, desiring both the secret of her calm, as much as a glimpse of the inner turmoil that, surely, surely must lie beneath. Or so her stage presence makes you believe.

James Lee was, as I mentioned earlier, particularly effective in Myra’s piece, while Gabrielle Low also was noteworthy for her ability to appear detached, which invokes a particular kind of danger – of the unpredictable perhaps – when she works it. Adrian Kisai conveys a committedness in performance, but I did feel that this is perhaps not the best medium for him. He may be body beautiful, but he’s certainly not body comfortable on this stage. It would be interesting to see him in more character driven work in the future.

Which leads me to question the framing of the workshop. Was this a choreography for non-choreographer cum dance for non-dancers workshop? Because as an audience, we were cued to deal with the intentional distancing between form and skills presented by the workshop, but there was literally no discourse about the imposition of non-dancers into the mix. One therefore was dealing with the lack of skills on a performative level, which distracted from any real engagement with the choreographic intent of the work. It’s tempting to speculate the outcome of supplying these same choreographers with formally trained performers. What violence upon the sacred realm of movement would that have served up?

The pieces which worked best were those which dealt with these limitations. Pang Khee Teik’s Hallelujah peopled the dance floor with couples enacting minitue dramas of desire and decline in the guise of slow dancing. I felt that it was the first piece to bring a level of discomfort to the audience. Myra and Kim’s caressing embrace, a whisper away from fulfillment juxtaposed beautifully against the struggle for disengagement that seemed to be at the root of Mark and Vernon’s wrestling. Gabrielle Low, immobilised upon Adrian Kisai’s back seemed to speak volumes in the blankness of her stare, while the act of reaching out and deflection between James Lee and Wyn formed a beautiful ballet of hands, where feet obviously had little rhythm.

Mark Teh’s piece took the idea of choreographer to its more abstract sense – choreography of nationhood via the state’s largest organ, the mass media. Two performers, Myra and Gabrielle, write the day’s headlines with chalk on the ground. With all the frenzy of moving body parts it’s not immediately obvious that the words form an ever enclosing grid which actually shrinks the movable space. Through a series of determining moves, the performers are corralled into a corner, like sheep. There, a formation that replicates the spectacle of the national day parade takes shape. Faster than you can sing “Mamula Moon”, the performers whip out plastic flags, and begin to wave them. Then they eat them. Talk about being force-fed a cheap, plastic form of nationalism.

The accidental audience at Central Market seem enthralled by the entire performance, and frankly, so was I. Despite my very many problems with the performance, it was an afternoon of art with risks, and risk takers are what we desperately need today.

So, dance or not dance? Is that even a question worth asking? Because, stepping away from the individual pieces, is it not possible to view the entire project-workshop and performance as one tightly choreographed event? The choreographer, in the guise of the facilitator, organises a series of encounters with 11 individuals, which turns them into the building blocks, each unit not merely moving, as would a dancer, but first conceptualising, then creating, then enacting each movement – which she then constructs into a full performance?

And does not this act of meta-choreography illustrate perfectly that choreography is manipulation ¬of limbs, of stances, of desires, of thought, of actions, of citizens, of nations?

Should we not be asking ourselves if we have just witnessed Marion D’Cruz’s most recent, most audacious and most accomplished choreography to date?

~ ~ ~

Kathy Rowland is co-director of Kakiseni.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More after evaluate

It is thought-provoking to read other people's report/ evaluasi.
Actually, I thought my evaluation is a bit cold and not sincere, here, I have more to share. :p

I must admit the workshop has make me work, really work. I haven't been doing physical work for a while and this is a real good chance, and working with these funny and crazy and kind and forgiving people is just pure pleasure.
To be honest, during the rehearsal period, I got so excited on every single rehearsal day, so looking forward to it, suddenly my life brighten up heaps more. Ha ha ha! Just can't help myself to be excited. It's just too much fun. Truthfully, I want say: 'Thanks Marion!' 'Thanks guys!'

Well, I learn lot more than what I wrote on my evaluation, on a very personal level, it's a bit complicated so I shall keep it to myself. I didn't give much thought about the performances, because I see it as the milestone and not the end. But, if we did go to the tunnel it would be a different experience.
Yes, sure Central Market is a colourful place, my school day would be dull without it ;)

Look forward for the next workshop by Marion.

Don't you miss this?

The Manchurian Report

· what worked well for you in the workshop?
The workshop worked well for me in terms that I could see the various participants’ contributions of ideas, working methods, and visions. A very good place & process to learn what works, and what not and also a good place to copy or borrow and to see things in a different way (I need that badly…). So guys don’t be surprised if u sees something similar in my future works (theatre or films)

· what do you want more of?
More time. But I must admit the good point of limited time also force each and every one of us to work something out at the end.

· what did you learn?

· what did you like?
In terms of choreography I’ll put floor pattern on top of my list. I could see the many more ways it could be useful for me in theatre works not necessary dance related works.

I design “Will you please be quiet, please?" from floor pattern and with it I could see clearly how I want to tweak or change things. It was like a script for me.

· what did you not like?
Seriously and honestly, nothing for me personally that I don’t like. Is FREE and some more we get PAID!!

· suggestions for next workshop and/or other workshops
Maybe could invite some professional or experienced choreographers or dancers to run some of the workshops to share their experiences and ideas with the non-choreographers.

Monday, July 03, 2006

evaluasi mark

what did you learn?

1. Found out more about the participants - through the way they moved, explained, gave and received instructions, planned, problem-solved and facilitated. And thus, learning that people process and work very differently – some come very prepared, some need to work out on the floor in order to help them visualize their piece, some are obsessive tweakers, some know what their piece is about and work towards that goal, some are more open to change and input on the floor and let the process reveal what their piece is about.

2. The wonder of floor patterns! The stuff I’d previously done had no clear (or otherwise very organic) floor patterns. Working with f.p. became a challenge and an obsession.

3. Other choreographic concepts and using them in choreography and performance.

4. Knee pads are your friends.

5. Hujan = slippery when wet. But it was a great experience to perform in the rain.

6. There is no substitute for hard work.

what worked well for you in the workshop?

1. The amount, variety and dynamics of participants (body shapes, experiences, skills).

2. The introduction and immediate application of choreographic concepts within the sessions.

3. The short amount of time, while a little too short, forced us to plan and lead clearly, concretize concepts and think on our feet. Efficiency is your friend also.

what did not work so well?

1. We needed a leveling-off of movement vocabularies between the participants – we may have found the limitations of our bodies, but am not sure that we pushed these limitations (beyond stamina, body awareness and focus).

2. The ‘site-specific-ness’ of our performance space – in many ways we were doing a site-unspecific work, which is okay in itself. The performances ultimately could have happened in any space. But if we had planned to do the performance in Central Market early on, then the contexts (historical, immigrant, sexual, political, architectural) related to the space should have been investigated for performance.

what did you like?

1. Performing. In a Marion D’Cruz project.

2. The audience and the performance space – we should do more things in Central Market.

3. The clear structure and goal of the workshop – this helped to shape the momentum for the final sessions and performances.

what did you not like?

1. Mac Chan should have been in it. Basket.

what do you want more of?

1. Marion D’Cruz projects – workshops, performances, dance theory classes.

2. More ‘watching’, analysis and discussion of choreography – contemporary, traditional, social and folk dance, physical theatre, sport, national day parades, opening/closing ceremonies (World Cup, Olympics, SUKMA), Bollywood/MTV videos, etc.

3. More in-depth looks at the works, issues and trajectories of a number of contemporary choreographers – local/international, whatever. Especially Marion’s work, to see the Choreography for Non-Choreographers work in the context of her career, and not just another experimental project by the flers at Five Arts Centre.

what do you want less of?

1. Talking talking talking talking on the rehearsal floor.

suggestions for next workshop and/or other workshops

1. Creative Movement workshop before Non-Choreographer’s workshop.

2. Please look at what do you want more of?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Star review

The Star, 2 July 2006.

Door into the ‘sacred realm’
by Choy Su-Ling

THE arts? “Oh, they're only for the arty-farty, lah,” many people would say. Well, they shouldn't be. The arts need to be accessible to everyone, otherwise it's all just artistes being horribly precious and performing for themselves and a handful of pretentious fans?.

Marion D’Cruz firmly believes in making the arts as democratic as possible. She began doing that by working with people who were interested in dance but who were not dancers, introducing them to movement and demystifying what happens on stage.

After years of putting non-dancers on stage, she thought about the next step: “If I can make non-dancers perform, I should be able to make the process of choreography accessible to non-choreographers.

“Basically, it’s a way of opening up the ‘sacred realm’ of thechoreographer. It’s one more step in the democratisation of creative space.”

Her Choreography for Non-Choreographers is the second workshop in the Krishen Jit Experimental Workshop Series 2006 organised by of the Five Arts Centre.

Concluding the workshop two weekends ago, 11 participants put up a five-minute performance each at the mobile-phones-allowed makeshift performance space between Central Market and the Liquid Room dance club in Kuala Lumpur. Bravo! The average “Central Market Jo(han)” now has access to such performances.

So there were two levels of democratisation: choreography for non-choreographers and a performance for a “non-audience”, ie, people who wouldn’t normally go to a dance performance. Access, in other words.

D’Cruz was quick to qualify that this event was not about dance but choreography – perhaps she was a tad wary that the performance would be judged on dance techniques.

Although the word “choreography” can be applied in situations other than dance, the workshop blog at boxspots.blogspot. com revealed that Choreography for Non-Choreographers was about dance-skewed choreography. It included conceptualising ideas, finding inspiration, understanding and expressing emotions (pain, anger, etc), communicating meaning and messages, understanding quality of movements, forming floor patterns, exploring improvisation, and making others execute your vision.

Not all trained dancers become choreographers. Most are merely executioners. The point where they start to become a choreographer is when they start to think.

So, were the 11 workshop participants able to think? Did they “get” choreography? Well, some more than others.

Indie film director and part-time photographer James Lee’s piece, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, was a good choice with which to kick-start the performance. Performers shocked passers-by by telling them very rudely to keep quiet. This form of audience interaction effectively grabbed people’s attention and made them stay on to watch.

Throughout, the performers had to say, “Will you please be quiet, please?” Travelling across the stage, animated, they told each other to shut up in various ways – begging, shouting, whispering, and screaming. The appeal of this format was the comforting familiarity of repetition and the oxymoron of individuals telling others to keep quiet when they themselves aren’t being very quiet!

24 Minutes in Kuala Lumpur, 64 Minutes in Jakarta was a study of greed and consumption. This piece by NGO worker and theatre practitioner Gabrielle Low was certainly entertaining and fun. The skinny labourer (Mark Teh) works hard to feed the capitalists ? it’s a glutton’s dance – one that saw the performers stuffing themselves silly and getting bloated. Finally, they are bowled over, and constipated. editor Phang Khee Teik choreographed Hallelujah, an emotional piece that celebrates the right to love. Although the pace was a bit slow, the piece demonstrated that, regardless of the type of relationship (man and woman, man and man, woman and woman), we all experience the same thing: happiness and hurt, fights and make-ups.

Actor Mark Teh’s piece meant to disturb – and its title obviously not meant to be understood! What on earth does Buang Ruang Kurang Kurung atau Tiap-Tiap Hari, Khabar Angin Lama, Surat Khabar Sama (Space Displace These Fears Erase aka Every Day, Old News Maker, Same News Paper) mean?

Title aside, I would say this was a great piece that described Malaysia all in one space. Malaysians live in denial: someone shouted, “There is no crisis.” Malaysians are shoe-polishers: someone shouted, “Yes, boss.” Malaysians are obsessed with celebrities: someone shouted, “Erra Fazira. Siti Nurhaliza.” Malaysians are hysterical: someone screamed bloody murder. And so forth. For the slap-in-the-face ending, the performers all grouped together and waved mini Malaysian flags shouting, “If they are not happy, they have to leave!” before putting the flags in their mouths. This is Malaysia, so swallow it?.

The More We Get Together by assistant theatrical producer Kiew Suet Kim explored the touchy issue of showing affection in public. She asked, “How far can the hands of the State probe into our personal lives?”

Unrequited by advertising consultant and theatre practitioner Vernon Adrian Emuang, made one feel the agonising pain of unrequited – though I’m not sure if that was also becasue the piece just felt too long. The performers walked in a dazed group from one corner to another, playing follow-the-leader. Although the point where a girl dropped “dead” and is carried by a saddened man was good drama, it was not a good call to have her walk on top of the other performers’ backs (forming stairs). Her fear of falling disrupted her focus.

Cita-Cita Saya by biologist (and frequent stage manager) June Tan tried to depict ambition but instead spewed over-optimism and over-confidence before nose-diving into sad reality.

According to the programme, Damaged by Five Arts Centre’s Adrian Kisai was followed by In One Piece by (theatre company) Dramalab’s Wyn Hee. But I couldn’t tell that by watching as it wasn’t clear when Damaged ended and Piece started – it seemed like both were actually one long piece of work. It sort of made sense: While one damages and the other puts back into one piece.

There was very little difference between Don’t Wake Me Up, I’m Sleeping by journalist Hari Azizan (who works at The Star) and A Sleepwalker in Transit by Universiti Teknologi Mara graduate Myra Mahyudin. Well, there was a big alarm clock in the latter. Otherwise, the execution was similar and after watching, one felt like asking, “So what?”

So what? Even professional choreographers sometimes produce choreographies that are not up to par. The point is, D’Cruz did make choreographers out of these non-choreographers.

However, this group of participants are not strangers to theatre in different forms. Wouldn’t it be interesting to try this workshop on an entirely different set of people, say, a mathematician, a bus driver, a nurse, a computer programmer and a chef?

Friday, June 30, 2006

bagai-bagai berita blog

Faisal Mustaffa Online

Back To Theater