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CATALYST 2021 - An embedded response by Alyah Amani

CATALYST is an annual incubation programme for P7:1SMA associates that supports research process and performance-making. We hope to inspire artistic practices that grow and embrace failures. Personalised support is given to artists such as unlimited studio time, mentorship circle, feedback with community and administrative support. Since 2018, there have been 4 local artists who have shared their works and creation process with the community.

Read more about shared works and artists here.


Embedded writing and personal response

by Alyah Amani

This marks the first day of Catalyst where 7 artists will be sharing their works and creation process to the community. As I sit here watching Rumah slowly come to life, I take in the calm energy of the room, the silent anticipation and busy hands. Coloured boxes line the floor as the first performer prepares her stage.


Tape town

by Valerie Lim & Melinda Lauw

  • Introduction to Tape Town and how the idea was formulated

  • The gloomy atmosphere of covid gave them the inspiration for this work

- Play on COVID restrictions

- Finger dance & Choreography

- Given time to decorate and create our own finger costumes

- Performance Time!

  • Mood : Playful, Light hearted, Engaging

Artist sharing

Is this meaningful enough for you as the public to continue the movement?

Audience sharing

“There is something flirtatious about the way my hand was dancing within and outside the box. If we did it with our bodies, we would attract attention and trouble but with our fingers and hands, it doesn’t seem wrong to do.”

“ There is potential for this project to grow. Tik Tok or other trendy social media platforms could be considered in marketing Tape Town.”

Personal Response

  • Basics of movement

  • Imitation through movement

  • Stick man

  • Reminds me of when i was a child using my hands and fingers to mimic and create scenarios for play time.



by Ismail Jemaah

Garap // Work on // Work // Cultivating

An interactive work that uses the ideas of the audience to formulate a performance. Elements of sound and movement are woven into this piece to create an immersive experience.Ismail was attracted to the intangible feeling of sensing each other’s presence during a live performance. He created this work for the sole purpose of enjoying the vibe a live performance gave off.


Day 1

  • Draw one thing that you saw today

  • Use a Google app to create a melody of your own

  • Create a sculpture from the responses

  • Find a way to connect these sculptures aka responses

Day 2

  • Write down the first word that comes to mind

  • Shout the word out loud ( Verbs, Adjectives, Nouns )

  • The use of instruments such as the Triangle are introduced

  • Hold up a hand sign to the performers

Personal Response

“Sufi and Syimah (dancers) are seen gracing the makeshift stage with their smiles and erratic movements. As the audience feeds the dancers their words and sounds, I become highly aware of my surroundings and what I was witnessing in front of me. The intangible feeling the artist was trying to get across finally relayed to me. The light hearted atmosphere of the room coupled with the air of playfulness got me feeling pumped and excited.”

Live Response

“The dancers have stopped closely interacting

Now they are dancing individually

Their movements are slow unlike previously where they were erratic

Watching them move i find myself smiling

As the rhythm picks up, their movements get faster and more frantic.

They move in accordance to the tempo and beat

There is an air of playfulness.

Even though they are not touching it feels and looks as if their bodies are moving as one

The barricades are then removed signaling the end of the performance.”


The inside of a child’s mind. Bringing back fond childhood memories.

Resurfacing past experiences.



by Jonit On & Syarifuddin Sahari

Live Documentation

“Dressed in white cropped tops

Jonit carries a laptop around with a blue screen with what appears to be coding of some sort? She moves in slow calculated steps

In a cat pose she slowly plays an audio of high pitched noise

She is seen observing the computer.

I can feel and hear the ringing in my ears i think it makes me feel nauseous

Like a sharp long lasting prick

Jonit addresses the audience as she moves to center space.

She then lies down in the middle of the white plastic

Syariffudin pours the blue paint on Jonit then proceeds to lay on her.

Now both bodies are stained in blue.

They slowly move in unison, almost mechanical.

The paint gets rubbed onto their bodies as they move in slow erotic movements.They keep a stoic face. Not particularly making eye contact with anyone. Staring into nothing.

Occasionally, lumps of paint falls off their bodies

I hear the sound of their feet covered in paint crumpling the plastic.

I smell the pungent smell of the acrylic paint.

The performance has come to an end.”

Audience body language

“I see a man covering his ears probably as bothered by the sound as i am

I see a man in a bucket hat unable to keep eye contact with the performance, he often glances about. Everybody is captivated by the performance.”


  • A transmission of data is taking place

  • Used more paint during the second performance

  • Movements changes due to paint

  • There is a certain anticipation and thrill watching the performers trying to move in swift motions without falling.

Artist sharing

  • Did not want to make much meaning out of the creation

  • Left it to the imagination of her viewers

  • She intended the capture the little space in between moments

  • The space between realities

  • “ When your computer dies on you and you start having an existential crisis.”

  • Mood : Alienistic Foreign Bodies, Futuristic yet Primal, Melancholy, Calmness

Audience sharing

  • It felt surreal

  • Reminded him of the “Blue screen of death”

  • The alien aspects reminded him of the Matrix skin

  • The blueness of the paint reminded him of laundry detergent

  • Reincarnation and death of sorts


Sacred Connection

by Sharul Mohd, Nurliyana Shukor, Geraldine Tng


How can the intangible be felt throughout the body? Death is inevitable

In order for something new to surface many things have to die.

A Soul Body Connection.

Layout of performance

Video - Performance - Artist QnA


  • Relying on sense of hearing and sight observation

  • Collaborative process took a longer time

  • Allowing his counter parts to be involved

  • Indonesian Vocalist, Peni Candra

  • Developing asian contemporary dance in Singapore

Layout of set

  • A single red rope separating sharul from the other two performers

  • Wooden box placed away from them

  • Tepak sirih

Traditional malay container

Store fancy food offerings

Batik used for deaths

Live Observations

Day 1

  • The two bodies are interacting with each other

  • They take in deep breaths

  • A type of possession is taking place

  • Entering a trance

  • Erratic movements

  • Sharul sits on a white platform where the rope is tied from

  • It feels as though he is the one singing

  • There is a hierarchy in the roles

“I can hear the sound ringing in my ears. The occasional sound of Sharul hitting the white platform breaks the silence. The two dancers are entering a sort of trance. The music sounds absolutely terrifying. With every beat of the platform, the two dancers fall deeper into their trance. I feel like I'm watching a ritual of sorts taking place. Sharul’s body answers to the calling of the music. His body contorts and moves as he slowly unveils a piece of batik from the wooden box. The batik now becomes an extension of his body as he twirls and becomes one . He handles the cloth delicately at the same time he tosses it about.”

Day 2

  • Clapping - Water trickling

  • Heavy breathing - Melodic Humming

  • Stomping - Chanting

  • Skirts flowing - Summoning

“The rain downpour is significantly heavier today. As the performances take place, a sense of tranquility takes over Rumah. The swaying of the trees and the occasional sweep of breeze changes the direction of the performance completely. In comparison to the first performance where the two dancers were worshiping Sharul, in this rendition all three performers are seen gathered praying to a higher being together. What felt dark and sinister yesterday is overwhelmed by a sense of peace and calmness today. The music is melodic and the performers enter a trance humming and breathing rhythmically.”

Visual Image Response to performance



by Syimah Sabtu & Merissa Tan

Describing the performance to me in three words

Raw, Cathartic, Transient.





Live Observations

The set consists of a large scroll of paper smeared with what appears to look like charcoal, the performer is seen donning a red silk dress. She wriggles her body in accordance to the music as she drags herself across the white sheet of paper. Moving in calculated steps the relationship between her body and the music creates a tense and suspenseful atmosphere. A single light illuminating the start of the scroll, the light bleeds onto her skin. There is a single projection on the window. I am unable to fully make out an image nor decipher the words behind the audio. The muffled sounds coming from the speaker along with the hazy projection creates a simulation of the performer’s mind. Her movements change in accordance to the beat and tempo of the music. As the performance peaks, she is seen to be moving more frantically, dragging herself through the charcoal.

A form of surrender

Towards the end she unrolls the scroll and holds it against herself. Lastly she covers the light with the scroll. Movements started from fetal position - crawling - standing

Tense, rigid, frantic, calculated, broken (movements),

Sounds (what I can hear)

  • Intense ritualistic music

  • The sound of her feet hitting the floor

  • Crushing the charcoal

  • Her palms rubbing the charcoal in

  • Instrumentals accompanied by chanting? Voices?

  • Audio of a woman talking

Personal Response

“The dark and gloomy ambience initially gave off a sinister almost suffocating vibe. As the performance progressed it felt more like she was regurgitating her past experiences using her performance as a form of catharsis. The relationship between her body and the music - visually, her movements looked restricted, rigid and minor. During the climax of her performance, her movements grew messy and she moved in a chaotic and turbulent way. Towards the end of her performance, the artist is seen making movements revolving her hands and stomach going around in circles.

It felt to me like she was externalising the internal.

Inner turmoils, inner conflicts and doubts, are now aired out for the world to witness.

It was an intimate part of the performance that I felt connected to. It was as if I had dipped my feet into her mind for a short fleeting moment.”

Circle time between Artist & community

Why did the artist choose to shine the projection onto the window?

  • The decision gathered mixed responses. Some loved the ambiguity it held, others could not connect to the performance.

The part of the performance where the artist is seen lifting up the white sheet creates a new horizontal plane which adds dimension to the performance.

  • The positions where you witness the performance from makes a huge difference. Different focus points.



by Syarifuddin Sahari

“What do you see in the music?

What do you hear in the movement?”

What I see (What do you see in the music?)

  • Rain

  • Thunder

  • An old house with wood creaking floors someone pacing up and down

  • Tension in hand movements almost like the arms wants to run away from the body

  • Movements get more frantic

  • The body is slowly transforming into a white being

  • Movements go from one arm to the other

  • His body parts are isolated but coming to life individually

  • Almost as if they have a mind of their own

  • As if his body is an anchor to his limbs

  • Erratic movements

What I hear (What do you hear in the movements?)

  • Rain pelting

  • Occasional foot on wood

  • Knocking of bones on the floor

  • The squeaking created by rubbing// mopping cloth on floor

  • Heavy breathing

  • Accompanied by silence

  • A strong sense of wanting to run away

What I feel

  • Curious

  • A strong sense of nostalgia

  • Viewing the body and its limbs as separate entities

“Oddly enough it reminds me of when you’re to be questioned in the here after, your limbs will speak for you. Your hands will speak of all the things they’ve touched and done while the legs will speak of all the places they’ve come across.”

Visual Image Response to performance



by Sonia Kwek

Live Observations

“Artist is seen in a black full suit leotard holding ashes. She is situated in a circle made of ash with jaw sticks lighted in front of her. The image of the grey powder falling and dropping on the black body is visually disturbing.

It feels private, intimate and subtly confrontational.

It forces the viewers to pay full attention in suspense.

The black leotard transforms and reduces the human body to a figure.

The smooth and almost erotic movements of the body is constrained to the limits of the circle. The performer is seen crawling on all fours, almost like an animal. This particular scene feels primal. Towards the end she is seen standing upright with her hands in the air swaying from side to side and making full body rotations. It gives off the impression that she is ascending. The music picks up towards the end of the performance, a sudden spike in the atmosphere that gets your heart pumping. I watch in awe as the performer enters a sort of trance as her body contorts into certain shapes and forms. I think I feel afraid of the unfamiliar image before me. It’s creepy i think, yet it forces you to keep your eyes watching. Her body morphs as she peels off the black leotard which once clothed her body. The black leotard which now looks like a second skin is tossed aside precariously.

She frantically messes up the neatly set circle that once kept her captive. She then gathers the ashes and spreads it across her body. She sits and stares at the audience, unflinching, almost as if we have intruded into her space. I feel like I'm being teleported. I don't know where and i don't know why but it feels as though i’m intruding.


What I can see

  • Praying

  • Worship

  • Taking in her body

  • Shadow reflected on the wall mimics her actions

  • There is a sense of vulnerability in the way she completely gives herself away to the performance

  • Often seen with hands above head as if she is worshipping/praying looking up to a higher being

  • Morphing

  • Shedding her skin

  • Baby animal upon birth

  • Slimy struggling to move properly

  • Rubbing in the ashes into her face and body

  • Looks straight into the crowd

Different stages of body levels

  • Starts standing eventually all 4 limbs make contact with the ground

  • Upon addressing her boundaries she is back to standing upright

  • Her body starts to contort

  • Ends in a “bridge” position

  • She ends up on her back with all limbs suspended

  • Squats

What I can hear

  • The introduction of bells/ percussion

  • The occasional sound of her body being dragged across the floor

  • There is a sudden change of tempo // electric guitar

  • Ritualistic music

  • The vibrations of the music echos and fills the room

  • The occasional sound of the drum and gong lingers

Visual Image Response to Performance


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