See dance with new eyes on this digital stage
This year’s JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience provided an online platform for local and international acts
Every arts writer has an Achilles heel, and mine is dance. I can sing the right tune with musicians. In the fine arts, I’ve learnt to tell a lithograph from an etching. Conceptual art? I can play in that playground. Theatre? Right up my alley. Literary arts? I’ve got degrees aplenty. Digital arts? Like most, I’m digitally capable as a consumer, even if I don’t get the nuances of design and engineering and coding.
But dance — well, dance exposes my ignorance. The technicalities, the history, the vocabulary, all these have remained beyond my grasp. Contemporary dance is a hybrid form, incorporating various “traditional” dance disciplines but also morphing with performance art, live installation, physical theatre and more. It can be befuddling. It can be bathetic. It can also be brave, brain-bending and astonishingly beautiful.
It is paradoxical that the aesthetic appeal of dance is best captured in photography. Dance, after all, implies movement rather than stasis. But perhaps — especially for those of us still trying to get to grips with the form — still images are effective because they convey a moment, a mood or a fragment of meaning in a dance piece without the viewer feeling compelled to make sense of the whole. This is dance as tableau, as visual art, with the theatricality and the visceral experience of live performance implied or teasingly suspended...