The Asian touch

By Denise LiEvents - 13 September 2010 9:00 AM | Updated 14 September 2010

The Asian touch

That’s what Janek Schergen, Artistic Director of Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) tells us we can expect from Refractions – A Double Bill: As Above, So Below/Nameless, which is being shown as part of the Singapore da:ns festival (read our guide to it here).


What fuelled the collaboration between the SDT and choreographers Edwaard Liang and Xing Liang?

I knew the two of them professionally when they were on the brink of being successful and well-known. They hail from different backgrounds and have different mindsets when it comes to choreography. Edwaard was formerly from the New York City Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater and his work is inspired by a series of diverse influences. Xing Liang is currently resident artist of the City Contemporary Dance Company in Hong Kong, is more contemporary-trained and is inspired by meditation.


What was it like working with two completely different choreographers on the same production?

We had a good time! The two of them had heard of each other but never worked together until now, and it was a big thrill for them. Because of their different styles, it was challenging to form a movement point of view. But it was very much a collaborative process for them and SDT.


Do you think Asian choreographers bring something different to the table from their Western contemporaries?

I remember the two of them being asked if being Asian has influenced the way they worked, and both of them said “No”. Edwaard said, “I don’t have to do anything. Being Asian is something that I am.” I think being Asian is not something they consciously think about. For sure, there are some Asian influences that come through in their work; for example, you can see some elements of taichi in Xing’s work, but I don’t think it’s something conscious and therefore not pretentious.



Edwaard Liang


Xing Liang


What’s the significance of the title ‘Refractions’?

A refraction can refer to the effect of light splitting of in different directions – I think this is what this production is about. The disparate styles of these two choreographers go off in different directions, but in a way that complements each other and that isn’t jarring, bringing their respective work to a higher level.


How would you convince someone to buy a ticket to ‘Refractions'?

I would tell them that it’s a one-off experience; they are unlikely to see anything like that again in this exact environment. It’s going to be memorable and extraordinary and that they should consider themselves fortunate to be able to witness something like that [laughs]! Most importantly, I want to let the audience know that there isn’t going to be something that they have to ‘get’. It doesn’t have to be an overly cerebral experience. Each and every individual who goes to see this performance is going to see something different, and I hope the performance will evoke some sort of immediate reaction in them.


Refractions: A Double Bill: As Above, So Below/Nameless takes place at the Esplanade Theatre Studio on October 16 and 17, 2010. Tickets are at $30 and are available at Sistic.

Edwaard Liang is also holding a Ballet Masterclass on October 12 at the Esplanade Rehearsal Studio for advanced dance students and dance practitioners, with a minimum requirement of RAD advanced 1 or equivalent. Tickets are only available through selection via online registration at


To find out more about the da:ns festival, click here.