Based off the concept of collaborating as equals, Eng Kai Er and Faye Lim share a fervent passion for dance, with even bigger hearts to match. Last week, we spoke to Kai and found out a few cool facts about her. This week, we caught up with Faye after rehearsals.
When Faye’s not dancing, she transfers her energy to other forms of movement, particularly aikido and spending time being active with her 2-year-old son. What’s more, she even directs the Strangeweather Movement Group, a collective focusing on movement and improvisation. Sharing her love for dance, Faye has also taught very young dancers and mentored youth dancers at the Little Arts Academy.
“The performance now puts a spotlight on discussion as performance. It’s wild, to me, what our work has become right now.”
– Faye Lim
1) Can you share a bit about your project that’s going to be shown at the end of the month?
Our project is a conversation about dance, performance and collaboration. It feels like being trapped in an enchanted forest, entangled in wordy negotiations about how to dance and perform together.
2) What sparked the idea behind She Ain’t Heavy, She’s Reaching into Space?
Kai and I had been interacting because of contact improvisation (CI) – when we participated in and organised jam sessions. Inadvertantly, we would chat about why we enjoyed CI, what we disliked about some conventions around CI, what we fantasised could happen in a CI-inspired performance. That’s when we decided to collaborate on a project to delve into these questions.
That said, the performance has moved on far from CI. We got interested in the sorts of discussions we had as we tried to devise and rehearse this work. The performance now puts a spotlight on discussion as performance. It’s wild, to me, what our work has become right now.
3) How different is this performance compared to other works that you’ve done?
I’ll comment on the project rather than the actual performance.
In this project, Kai and I tried and managed to collaborate as equals. It seems to me that both of us gave and took in equal measure. We did not divide roles between the both of us. Almost everything was and had to be mutually agreeable. So everything took a lot of time and discussion. As a process, it has been very revealing, delightful and challenging for me. This is not something I would jump into with a larger group of collaborators.
Typically, in other projects I’ve worked on, there is a clear decision-maker. For example, when I work with Strangeweather Movement Group, an outfit I founded, I’m usually the one directing towards my vision of the work. Or in other projects, roles are clear. Collaborators come in from different disciplines and contribute to the project from different sides or angles.
4) You’ve worked with Kai on some other performances prior to this, how is this collaboration process different?
It’s very different because here, our working relationship is much more intimate. In the other performances prior to this, we worked together as part of a larger group and weren’t directly responsible for the overall vision of the work. I did not expect to find out so much about Kai through this collaboration or to arrive at this level of familiarity. I think our rehearsal and performance structures facilitate that because the performance itself requires of us to be vulnerable and confrontational with each other. Literally, in each run of the performance, I receive new information about what and how Kai thinks and feels.
For this performance, we could potentially run into the problem of over-rehearsing. I’m always (unnecessarily) worried that I have discovered everything there is to know about Kai and would run out of material for the performance.
5) Could you share if there any challenges that you’ve faced?
I have to save the talk about challenges for the performance itself *wink*. But I’ll share this – both Kai and I are pushing the boundaries of what we feel capable of performing. Thank goodness for a great team of folks who have joined in at various points of our process to help us in performing beyond our depth.
6) Do you try to push yourself in new directions with each piece you do?
Yes. I’ve not had the opportunity of a commission that only wanted me to regurgitate something I’d done before.
Sometimes though, I use the same material but perform it with different intentions for different settings. For example, I’ve performed the “cheek-to-cheek” improvisational duet with Bernice Lee multiple times. We first created this in 2011 and performed it as a standalone as part of “For the Time Being” at the Post-Museum when it was on Rowell Road. Since then, we have worked it into 4 distinct performances and I’d like to find more performance settings for “cheek-to-cheek.”
7) What’s your favourite non-dance activity?
Reading aloud with my 2 year-old son as he sits or lays on me. I really enjoy the feeling of his weight on my body.
8) Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Rolling around on the ground. It’s somewhat of a daily ritual too.
She Ain’t Heavy, She’s Reaching Into Space will be presented on 28 and 29 July 2016, 8pm at 72-13.
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