It is enough to raise eyebrows if you have not heard of their work before. Hollow from the other side? Body lab? It this a horror story or a mad scientist’s creation?

The truth is less flamboyant than it sounds, but it might just be as show-stopping in its own right.

Hollow From The Other Side: Body Lab is a collaboration between Singapore’s The Human Expression Dance Company (T.H.E) and Malaysian dancers and musicians.

This workshop series and dance production is hosted by KongsiKL, a warehouse space in Jalan Klang Lama in Kuala Lumpur from Nov 21-24.

The highlight of this event is an improvisation lab that will culminate in a site-specific performance echoing the Hollow Body concept, which is an improvisation-based methodology used in T.H.E Dance Company to help performers recognise the different states of mind, heart and body in movement.

T.H.E Dance Company founder and artistic director Kuik Swee Boon envisions the body as a hollow container that carries an individual’s world. As performance is a complex relationship between the physical and abstract worlds, he believes that training dancers should go beyond the conventional teaching of steps.

“He (Kuik) is looking for an energised body that moves with ease and is never static. Learning how to produce and channel organic energy in its sincerest form is central to the concept of Hollow Body, the consciousness of evoking movement and impulses from deep within the body to create new expression,” explains company manager Jael Chew.

Underscoring the importance of the process of creation of art, this collaborative project offers the public an opportunity to witness the improvisation lab in action, before the performance proper on Nov 23-24. There will also be dance workshops as part of this project.

KongsiKL

A dance work called Present by T.H.E Dance Company. Photo: Matthew G. Johnson

The participating artists are seven dancers from T.H.E Dance Company, including Kuik; and six dancers from Malaysia, plus a musician and a lighting designer rounding up the group.

According to KongsiKL curator and Hollow From The Other Side: Body Lab producer Doris Q, contemporary dance is not just about presenting choreographed steps and synchronised body movements to the audience, but it is a series of responses and expressions one makes towards time and place.

She references American screenwriter Carlton Cuse, who describes the creative process as “not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt”, but instead a series of ongoing discoveries and revelations.

“Using the Hollow Body methodology in this lab will be an exciting experiment to see how artists of different disciplines and dance training background communicate through body and heart with minimal verbal cues. For those who are curious as to how to dance is crafted as an art form, our doors are open!’ says Q.

Hollow From The Other Side: Body Lab in Kuala Lumpur is T.H.E Dance Company’s first stop on its community outreach initiative tour. The group’s next stops will be Vientiane in Laos, and then Bangkok.

KongsiKL

The KongsiKL warehouse, which is been a dedicated space to host experimental arts events. Photo: KongsiKL

Its first stop in Malaysia is one with a difference as it offers the artists time and space to explore in ways that is not always possible at festivals or other events.

“It is one of the rare times our dancers and Swee Boon get to spend so much time and go deep into ‘workshopping’, experimenting, and developing new materials – and hopefully artistic breakthroughs – with the local artistic community. What’s more, we have a chance to share in an informal setting with a wide range of audiences. This one-on-one immediate dialogues we look forward to having are a refreshing change from our Laos, Bangkok or many other big festival tours where we usually present a show, maybe conduct a workshop or two, and leave without the opportunity to interact further,” says Chew.

This contemporary dance company, known for its daring approaches and edgy performances, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

At the performance evenings at Hollow From The Other Side: Body Lab, two of T.H.E Dance Company’s pieces titled Pure and Present, will also be presented. They are choreographed by Kuik and Korean choreographer Kim Jae-Duk, who was T.H.E Dance Company’s first resident choreographer, respectively.

Pure is inspired by the philosophical adage that existence precedes essence (l’existence precede l’essence) and is driven by the perpetual cycle of tension and compromise that accompanies every form of social interaction. Present revolves around two dancers in a physical dialogue on existence and being, where one represents the pursuit of reason and the other of value.


Hollow From The Other Side: Body Lab is on at KongsiKL, Gudang Yee Seng 2, Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur, from Nov 21 to 24. The performance will be held on Nov 23-24 at 8.30pm. Entry by donation of RM60. Duration: 90 min, inclusive of intermission. More details at FB: KongsiKL or T.H.E Dance Company. Visit: www.kongsikl.com.