Silences We Are Familiar With by T.H.E Dance Company: Review

What is love? Or loss? Feelings, emotions – tangible or intangible? Rational or irrational? Or frequently something in between? In Silences We Are Familiar With, T.H.E Dance Company has created a piece that contemplates life, death, love and everything in between. Specially commissioned for the Esplanade da:ns Festival in 2012, this revised version was performed to live vocals and music by NAC Young Artist Award winner (and B-Quartet member), Bani Haykal last month.

Image courtesy of Kuang Jingkai

Choreographer Kuik Swee Boon’s celebration of life in this piece manages to mix and merge various forms – interspersing lines of poetry, music, and dialogue with a fluid mix of dance moves which show off the strength and flexibility of the dancers. From the clash and chatter of the everyday to the quiet closeness of two people, the swiftly changing tempos of the dance are fluid yet sufficiently reminiscent of our own daily realities. Kuik’s creative use of props like the dancers’ clothing and footwear in ensemble pieces serve to highlight and question the relationship – or lack thereof – between our bodies and our belongings. More could have been done, perhaps, to illuminate this relationship between man and his surroundings and how it complicates and/or interfaces with human relationships.

The accompaniment from Bani Haykal was integral to the piece’s success, giving an additional dimension of live-ness to the dance. Watching Haykal make his music – whether he was playing, singing, or speaking – was as captivating as watching the dancers on stage. That Silences was not just able to integrate his music into the performance but have him be part of the dancers’ movement as well was yet another triumph for the piece.

Image courtesy of Kuang Jingkai

One is reminded that the interweave of movement, sound, and spoken word should not be seen as anomaly but as a reflection of how we exist in reality. For being an example of this, Silences should be lauded and taken into consideration by other artists. In fact, the intertwine of different media reminded me that the complexities of human emotion cannot be reduced into either text or image, or any other singular medium, for that matter.

‘…unfamiliar yet visible – the present riddled with silences we are familiar with…’
As I left the theatre, I was reminded to pause, to look more closely at the spaces and silences which punctuate the choreographies of this universe. And I eagerly await the next performance by T.H.E Dance Company.

Header image courtesy of Bernie Ng, subsequent images courtesy of Kuang Jingkai.


When not out trying new eats or exploring the arts scene around Singapore, you will likely find Deb somewhere in the great outdoors, trekking, biking, or hugging trees. She is also a huge bookworm and comic nut, especially partial to Calvin and Hobbes.

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