Interview with Associate Artist, Loo Zihan

Interview with Associate Artist, Loo Zihan

Zihan

We are excited about the presentation of 50/50, a new interactive dance class conceived by our Associate Artist, Loo Zihan! In collaboration with Joanna Dong, Sinclair Ang and Jereh Leong, Zihan addresses issues pertaining to performance of gender, race and sexuality in social dance and everyday life. Prior to this programme, Zihan has been involved in some of TheatreWorks programmes such as Retrospective in collaboration with Xavier Le Roy (2014). Recently awarded with NAC’s (National Arts Council) Young Artist Award, this is the first time Zihan directs a movement based piece.

(Lindy Hop) isn’t all about fancy throws and acrobatic aerials, but more importantly about the connection between two individuals and improvisation on the dance floor to the music.

– Loo Zihan, TheatreWorks’ Associate Artist, 50/50

Our Engagement Intern, Michelle Kee caught up with Zihan to find out more about his inspiration and creative process behind this new exciting work.


1 What was your impetus in creating 50/50?

I have been doing Lindy Hop for the past 15 years, it has always been a side passion of mine. There were moments in these 15 years that I was much more dedicated to the swing dance community, and moments when I got caught up in work and life and drifted away from the dance but it was always present in the background.

My ad-hoc passion has brought me to many countries and places – the largest Lindy Hop dance camp in the world is hosted in a small village to the north of Stockholm in Sweden annually which I have been to twice. Other experiences included competing in South Korea and Melbourne, dance workshops in New York and London, and social dancing in Chicago, Nantes etc.

It has always been my desire to work on a production that will meld my passion with my practice – and this seems like the perfect platform to do so. I wanted an experience that will go beyond a basic introduction to the dance, and address several autobiographical and philosophical aspects of the dance.

It was also an excuse to work with talented dancers and performers I have known for a really long time through Lindy Hop – Joanna Dong, Sinclair Ang and Jereh Leong. This production will unpack our relationship with each other, with the dance and the Lindy Hop community.

2 How has this work been different from the other works you have done?

The format of the performance is completely new and unfamiliar for me – a series of three dance classes that audiences must commit to and participate in. I am still a little worried if we would be able to gather 200 participants who are able to commit to the classes given the current arts climate with a plethora of options and events to choose from.

This is also the first time I am spearheading a movement-based production. I have performed in dance-based pieces in the past, most recently in Xavier Le Roy’s Retrospective presented by TheatreWorks in 2014, but this would be the first time I am directing a movement based piece of my own.

3 How was your experience working with these three collaborators so far?

They have all been long time friends – most of whom I have known for over a decade, so it was very nice to actually take this opportunity to catch up and unpack the impact of Lindy Hop on our respective area of practice.

Joanna has always been an amazing Lindy Hopper and I am glad she will be able to showcase her beautiful dancing in this production. She has been really busy with filming for TV and other gigs and I really am impressed by her commitment and passion for this production.

Sinclair was one of my first few Lindy Hop teachers – and I am constantly learning from him. His class will focus on the background and history of the dance, and he is one of the few people in Singapore who is able to unpack this information comprehensively.

Jereh and I started out with Lindy at a very young age – I was 19 and he was 13. I came into the dance later than him and subsequently we went into the performance team, and also a dance programme offered by the dance studio that trained us in other dance forms. It is amazing to see how he has gone on to make contemporary dance his career and this class is an opportunity to explore some of the questions we have always had for each other regarding our sexuality and affinity for this hetero-normative social dance.

4 What are some of the challenges you face during the artistic process?

As it is a pedagogical experience, it is tough to balance between content delivery and the actual learning of dance steps itself. It is also hard to predict how fast or how quickly we can teach the steps as it really depends on the aptitude of the audience, which will be different each night of the performance. So the production will come together only when we present it to our audiences.

5 What should audience-participants expect from this programme?

Participants should come with an open mind, and with comfortable clothing and shoes, ready to move and engage with the class. Each class features a different co-teacher but is an accumulation of knowledge from the previous week, so it will be helpful if participants can attend all three sessions.

6 What do you think audience-participants can bring back from this programme?

I hope that after the classes, audience-participants will gain a better understanding about Lindy Hop that it isn’t all about fancy throws and acrobatic aerials, but more importantly about the connection between two individuals and improvisation on the dance floor to the music.

I also hope the experience of these three classes will allow them to momentarily question how they perform their gender, racial and sexual identity on a day to day basis.


Find out the programme details of 50/50 here.

Interested in taking part in 50/50? Drop us an email at fifty50@theatreworks.org.sg or call us at 6737-7213 to reserve your place today!

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