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District 14: Associates' Rehearsal 4

| Documentation by Syarifuddin Sahari |

7:30pm - 9:30pm, Geylang Serai

Haizad started off the rehearsal by sharing about the flow and workflow, being a procession of sorts and having a flow of events, and how it is a site-specific work which is not a dance film where there is no prior videography planning before the actual recording/s.

First briefing for the first rehearsal held outside Tanjong Katong Complex.

The associates then proceeded to warm up via Last Breath. They were invited to find their own space (within the area, while considering their safety) and to sense each other’s collective energies. There were “accidental audience” as they passed by or from the nearby crosswalk. It could have been a way for the associates to acclimatise themselves to the air and environment around Geylang, as it was the first rehearsal after a few site recces. They were to also fill up the nooks and crannies in the area (perhaps to also fulfil the safe distancing requirements?). Afterwards, there was a briefing for the next segment of the rehearsal before shifting to the Haig Road Food Centre area.

­The calmer Last Breath adjacent to the busy road.

The next segment was to carry out a form of Imitasi around the area, this time while keeping a few points in mind:

- To immerse in the space.

- To imitate the surroundings and the friends / “friends” in it.

- To (try to) assimilate while being a foreign body in the space.

- There are more passers-by compared to the previous area.

- There are more shadows at night / more contentions between light and shadows at night.

- To blend in but be an anomaly.

- Free to wander off as a collective or individually.

- To take their time for momentum.

Briefing for the first Imitasi and sensing in Geylang.

Observations and thoughts from the task:

- Syimah balanced on the lines on the floor, before Valerie joined in.

- Valerie sat and watched / observed what was around her.

- Jonit was mostly walking around.

- Sonia was walking around and occasionally sat down to rest / observe.

- Ismail smoked a cigarette

- Ismail was chasing after the buses, or perhaps we were the bus.

- Syimah, Valerie, Jonit and Sonia started coming and flocking together around one of the tables, before Ismail joined in (as he was occupied) and brought along an umbrella.

- Were the associates blending in with the people in the area or were they bringing in their own experiences from elsewhere?

o Is there a difference between the two?

- The “audience” seemed to not be sure with what was happening, and were then assured by Haizad and I taking out our phones and recording the process.

- Physical interaction is a sensitive topic during these times, what was going through their minds when they witnessed the associates being in close proximity and having physical contact?

- There appeared to be a clear presence of performance bodies amongst the crowd, was it because I knew what was happening or because they were less pedestrian in action and presence?

- Seeing the associates go about their explorations brought about the imagery of children playing, a contrast from the crowd as there were little to no children out at that timing.

Imitating. Sensing. Playing.

They then had a debrief to share their discoveries and reflections:

- There was a blurring of lines between dancing and pedestrian.

- The task was the basis of what the associates will be doing / going through for District 14.

- That was how it usually starts and ends.

- Haizad saw connections between / within bodies and the space.

- Syimah:

o Exporing the contrast between the busy afternoon and calmness at night.

o Juxtapose in the measuring; so much has changed.

o Difference in strides, different counts of steps, different amounts of time passed.

o Wants to try the same exploration at Geylang Market.

- Sonia:

o Recalling District 27 and District 18.

o Common sights of uncles drinking.

o Hearing loud music being played.

o Praying at one of the altars in the area.

o There is always something different in each new place.

- Valerie:

o Different people walking differently; will it be rude to copy them?

- Haizad

o There was the aspect of smell, of dried shrimp.

o The lighting at night.

o Sound of buses and vehicles.

o Commented that Hasyimah is hardcore and would lie down on the floor etc.

- Ismail:

o Was thinking of the location for his video: either the space / field behind where there is no human traffic or the open carpark.

o Observed the correlations between lights and buses.

o Geylang is always present and is prominent; traffic is always there (regardless human or vehicular).

o Does not have a connection to [the physicality of] Geylang, more of the meanings / happenings on-site.

- Haizad added in more points after everyone had their turn:

o Wants to prepare the associates for the video as it is a 7-minute solo.

o No mask in the film.

o Try not to shoot off the surroundings.

o Will try to translate the live-ness in happening.

o Wants to develop the associates’ (and by extension P7:1SMA’s) presence in the space.

o Their dance films can be choreographed or have a score.

o The associates to consider how it relates to their individual prompt.

o The dance film can be roving and does not necessarily have to be stationary.

A roundtable debrief.

Some thoughts from the rehearsal:

- The task (as well as the project as a whole) requires the associates to confront their personal barriers.

o Social (if any); working with / collaborating with external invited artists and facilitating workshops with a variety of participants.

o Dancing in space while being foreign as compared having a “safety cushion” in friends or fellow companions with public, spontaneous audience.

- How will the prompts and space merge through the medium of the associates’ bodies?


As much as we will attempt to record the process, this journal does not necessarily reflect the artistic direction or intention of the work. This is our interpretation as we experience it with the artists and collaborators.

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