Di­men­sions

Dance, vi­su­als and mu­sic come to­gether per­fectly in this thought-pro­vok­ing pro­duc­tion.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By SHARMILLA GANE­SAN star2@thes­tar.com.my

When telling a story, it mat­ters not how one may choose to do it, only that they do it with con­vic­tion. And that is pre­cisely why Flat­land: An Adap­ta­tion In Dance works so well. It may be a con­tem­po­rary dance pro­duc­tion, but it is also an ex­tremely deft amal­ga­ma­tion of var­i­ous el­e­ments – light­ing, au­dio­vi­sual and sound de­sign – which all come to­gether in just the right way to tell its story.

Cre­ated by per­form­ing arts com­pany Ter­ryandTheCuz in col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal dancer/chore­og­ra­pher Suhaili Miche­line and Aus­tralia-based The Ru­bix Cube, Flat­land is adapted from the 1884 satir­i­cal novella by ed­win A. Ab­bott, where in­hab­i­tants of a flat twodi­men­sional world are con­vinced by the pow­ers-that-be to think their world is all there is.

When the pro­tag­o­nist, a “square”, dis­cov­ers the ex­is­tence of dif­fer­ent di­men­sions, is­sues of class, so­cial hi­er­ar­chy and con­trol of in­forma- tion come to the fore­front.

The rea­son this con­tem­po­rary dance adap­ta­tion of Flat­land works so well is be­cause it uses Ab­bott’s strong nar­ra­tive as a frame within which var­i­ous art forms can comin­gle to cre­ate some­thing en­tirely unique. You do not need to know or even fully un­der­stand the orig­i­nal story to ap­pre­ci­ate this pro­duc­tion; thanks to the strength of its vis­ual el­e­ments, the ideas res­onate with you on a vis­ceral level.

Suhaili’s chore­og­ra­phy for Flat­land is both in­ven­tive and ac­ces­si­ble, with a bal­ance be­tween strong dance vo­cab­u­lary and a play­ful­ness that serves the sto­ry­line well. While some parts are rem­i­nis­cent of clas­sic video games like Pac-Man or Tron, oth­ers al­lude to anime, and yet oth­ers are al­most bal­letic in their tight move­ments.

her us­age of space and a keen eye for vis­ually-in­ter­est­ing for­ma­tions are also es­sen­tial to bring­ing the con­cept of the var­i­ous di­men­sions to life. Our in­tro­duc­tion to Flat­land, for in­stance – all an­gu­lar move­ments and straight for­ma­tions – not only dis­plays the chore­o­graphic style of the en­tire show, but also clev­erly de­picts the class struc­tures and hi­er­ar­chy in­her­ent in the sto­ry­line.

An ac­com­plished dancer in her own right, Suhaili also does an im­pres­sive job play­ing the square, im­bu­ing her move­ments with the nec­es­sary emo­tions to al­low us to con­nect with the char­ac­ter. This is es­pe­cially so when the square is slowly made aware of the ex­is­tence of other lands; her dis­tress and con­fu­sion, and later ex­pand­ing aware­ness, are keenly felt by the au­di­ence.

Play­ing var­i­ous roles within the show are dancers Aman­dus Paul, Dar­ren Ong, Fa­hezul Azri, hari­raam Lam, James Kan, Joshua Gui, Lu Wit Chin, Pen­gi­ran Qayyum, Syaf­fiq ham­bali and Syafizal-Sya­zlee, who all put in ad­mirable effort. While the en­sem­ble dancers could oc­ca­sion­ally do with more en­ergy, and co­or­di­na­tion was slightly lack­ing in some of the more com­plex rou­tines, they are par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive when it comes to ex­e­cut­ing the vastly dif­fer­ent move­ments nec­es­sary to evoke each dif­fer­ent di­men­sion.

Mean­while, light, sound and

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