E.sperimenti Dance Company’s choice of the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet, the Sigma (IMAGE), to represent the “E” in its name wasn’t only about design. According to dance instructor, Silvia Pinna, who is visiting ISKL for Dance Exchange from September 20-21, the symbol, along with the full stop that follows it, encapsulates the group’s ethos. She explains, “The ‘E’ in our name is the symbol of inclusion, the Greek E which means summation in mathematics. And the dot is because E.sperimenti is the group, but the dot represents the individual.”
That focus on inclusion and the individual was evident at workshops held across the weekend prior to Dance Exchange which was open not only to students but faculty and staff as well. Silvia continues, “Even in a large group, we focus on the individual dancer.”
E.sperimenti’s visit to Dance Exchange is a break from tradition. The exchange usually involves students from IASAS schools coming to a host school for workshops with no prior engagement. This year, however, as the host school, ISKL in collaboration with Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), the International School of Manila (ISM), and the International School of Bangkok (ISB), organized for the E.sperimenti dancers to visit each of the participating schools for workshops prior to Exchange weekend where all of the groups will come together to learn and perform at ISKL.
ISKL HS Dance Teacher Karen Palko says, “It’s definitely different from the usual arrangement, but really exciting to watch these dancers interact with the students and to see what they can achieve.”
The three-hour weekend workshops included exploration of movement and space, as well as learning some set choreography. ISKL MS and HS students, as well as visiting dancers from Mont Kiara International School and a handful of faculty, were introduced to a new way of thinking about movement. Rozanne L. (Grade 11), who is part of Dance Exchange, says, “…their genre is very contemporary. My background is in ballet, so that is what I dance usually do. Ballet is more of a rigid structure; but contemporary is more flowing, so I’m learning to use my body differently, especially my upper body.”
The E.sperimenti visit for Dance Exchange is supported with a grant from ISKL’s Inspiration Fund which provides grants for projects to inspire student excellence. Working with a professional dance company is certainly inspiring for ISKL’s dancers. Rozanne continues, “I am mostly looking forward to working with other dancers. We all have lots of different backgrounds, but when we all come together we can all learn something from each other. With the professional dance company, you can get what they do at a professional level, and learn their techniques.”
Silvia believes it is important to expose young dancers to less rigid styles of dance. She explains, “If we put dancers into structures, like ballet, hip hop et cetera, we lose how to move as an individual. First of all, we want to make them comfortable to explore with their own bodies and movement and really try to feel their own movements. Then, have an open mind to communicate with the other dancers and with the audience who are there to see something beautiful. If you feel the communication with the other performers, you can let the audience see this as well. Then, have fun. These are the three important things. We in the company feel like friends and we have fun together, even though it’s our job.”
That focus on communication resonated with Natasha T. who graduated this year but was eager to return for the workshops, just prior to leaving KL for university in the UK. She says, “They’ve shown us how even simple movements, like walking, can be really graceful and have a purpose and communicate something. They are teaching us the process of making movement.”
E.sperimenti’s Asian tour has included the pre-Dance Exchange workshops, as well as gala performances in Singapore and Hong Kong and a special performance hosted by the Italian Embassy and presented in the Robert B. Gaw Theatre on Thursday 19 September. It’s been a whirlwind tour, which culminates in the final IASAS Dance Exchange performance on Saturday 21 September.
IASAS Dance Exchange Performance – Saturday 25 September, from 7 pm in the Robert B. Gaw Theatre. All welcome.