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By Soumee De

“The dramaturg is the third eye for the choreographer.” The SPOTLIGHT series for 2021 kicked off with an insightful session on DRAMATRUGY in dance-making by Lim How Ngean, Dramaturg and founder of Asian Dramaturgs’ Network (ADN), followed by a conversation with a panelists Faith Tan, Head of Dance and Theatre at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay; Aravinth Kumarasamy, Artistic and Managing Director of Apsaras Arts and Mohanapriyan Thavarajah, Resident choreographer and principal dancer, Apsaras Arts.

On Sunday 31st January the SPOTLIGHT series for 2021 kicked off with an insightful session on DRAMATRUGY in dance-making by Lim How Ngean, Dramaturg and founder of Asian Dramaturgs’ Network (ADN), followed by a conversation with a panelists Faith Tan, Head of Dance and Theatre at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay; Aravinth Kumarasamy, Artistic and Managing Director of Apsaras Arts and Mohanapriyan Thavarajah, Resident choreographer and principal dancer, Apsaras Arts.

Lim How Ngean, has been actively involved in the performing arts for 30 years, practicing in Malaysia and Singapore. He has been dramaturging dance since 2009 for various institutions and individual choreographers. In his talk, he introduced the different aspects of performing arts and how dance needs to fit into the bigger picture that affects the spectatorship. In a critical examination of the performance flow, he explained the cause and effect through his experiences of working with acclaimed Singaporean choreographers Daniel Kok, Joavien Ng, Kuik Swee Boon and Ming Poon, Thailand’s Pichet Klunchun, and, Phnom Penh-based Amrita Performing Arts. In particular, he raised the better question (along with examples) on the impact of the ride of the audience throughout the performance flow. In the second half of the webinar, Lim How Ngean was joined by Faith Tan, Aravinth Kumarasamy and Mohanapriyan Thavarajah, where they exchanged stories from their past works like Anjaneyam on what the dramaturg can do and cannot do; creative tension and collaboration between the roles of dramaturg and artistic director and choreographer. Faith Tan emphasized the importance of working with dramaturg in a dance production and she sees this as not a nice-to-have but a necessary-to-have role in the success of a performing arts production. In conclusion we walked away with a beautiful learning from Pitchet Klunchun:
“Dramaturg is the watcher who observes the choreographer and the work under creation phase, then gives feedback from different perspectives…. comments from dramaturg is important because it can help the choreographer get back to focusing on the right track. The dramaturg is the third eye for the choreographer.”

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