Silences We are Familiar With

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Silences We Are Familiar With 2015 (1) L-R: Evelyn Toh, Lee Mun Wai, Anthea Seah (behind) Chung Nguyen, Zhuo Zihao, Wu Mi, Kei Ushiroda. Photo by Bernie Ng.

by Hidir Koh

Choreographer Kuik Swee Boon took another take on Silences We Are Familiar With, a 2012 commission to the Esplanade’s Da:ns Festival, in his recent production of the same name.

In this piece, the dance retained its original structure, invoking emotions by simultaneously delivering poetry music and dance, which fed off each other to portray the raw sentiments of love, death and loss. The performance made use of visually pleasing props, most notable was the use of blood red strings. These were manipulated during the dance and extended elaborately like webs across the stage, representing the intricate tether of human relationships.

Besides adding new elements to physical props, the dance also beautifully assimilates the new experiences of the choreographer, Kuik Swee Boon and sound artist, Bani Haykal. Inspiration for the new choreography was drawn from Swee Boon’s love experience over the past 3 years. He seamlessly incorporated the new into the old, which resulted in the fluid transitions and movements.

As for Bani, he integrated his post performance insights of the previous piece into his current compositions. Although the diction from the poem performed in the original remained the same, the yearning music that encapsulates it was very much different, as the original composition was a reflection of his estranged relationship with his mother, which has since improved.

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Silences We Are Familiar With 2015 (2) L-R: Wu Mi (floor), Chung Nguyen, Zhuo Zihao, Anthea Seah, Lee Mun Wai & Evelyn (behind). Photo by Bernie Ng.

The dancers who staged the show were also different. Only 3 of the existing dancers were from the original cast, and Kuik Swee Boon had to create subtle modifications in his piece to allow the new comers to have room for self-expression. They also had to accustom themselves to performing to live music, which they found it simple once they realized that it was easier to dance to the emotions evoked to the music rather than the exact tempo.

With all these new contributions to the piece, it truly is worth its reconceptualization.