A production by T.H.E Dance Company, choreographed by Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Kuik Swee Boon and Resident Choreographer Kim Jae Duk.
Alluding to both choreographers’ cultural roots, ‘盤’ is a word commonly used by Mandarin-speaking cultures around the world, that also exists in the native vocabularies of the Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese. Represented in its traditional form, the Mandarin title《盤》draws upon the allegorical Chinese creation myth ‘Pangu’, a fabled being whose colossal body fragments to transform into all elements of nature. The tale of ‘Pangu’ serves as a starting point to investigate the notion of transculturation – as both a concept and present-day reality. Gathering the voices of different collaborators,《盤》Pán sets out to uncover if a shared positionality can be fashioned for our current times.
The work echoes the playful imagery found in the Chinese character’s homophonic variants – ‘pán’ being the pin-yin romanisation of ‘盤’ and doubling up as its English title: a serving bowl, a large boulder, the crouched intensity of a giant feline, a coiling dragon.
These evocative meanings intertwine with Kuik’s explorative research, beginning in 2018, of the twin ideas of transculturation and positionality. Through《盤》Pán, Kuik urges the viewer to contemplate the deeper implications of the concept coined by Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz in 1940:
Loosely defined, transculturation is the process of a continual merging and converging of cultures, where either side may stand to lose or gain its resident properties, or where both sides become enriched by a broad absorption of new and innovative elements. Consequent outcomes include neo-culturation (cultural renewal or regeneration) or de-culturation (cultural shrinkage).
The most striking feature of transculturation is the absence of any preconception regarding the evolutionary course that cultural transmogrification should take. The notion of positionality occupies this grey zone.
Moving from the abstract to the familiar, it is here where《盤》Pán hopes to advance new possibilities for the inclusion of diverse audiences and artists with disabilities.
Created in collaboration with award-winning music artist Wang Yu-jun, lighting and spatial designer Adrian Tan, costume designer Loo An Ni and Access Path Productions, and commissioned by Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre for the Cultural Extravaganza Festival 2021, the performance will be hosted and co-performed by Wheelsmith (Danial Bawthan) and Tung Ka Wai.
Both performances of《盤》Pán will be audio described and feature live captioning. Real-time livestreams of the performances will also include live captioning.