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ten days on the island


new asian dance: body doubles

bec tudor: ten days on the island: daniel yeung, raka maitra


Daniel Yeung Daniel Yeung
courtesy the artist
THE UNTITLED DOUBLE BILL WITH DANIEL YEUNG AND RAKA MAITRA FEATURES INDEPENDENT SOLO PERFORMANCES BY THESE TWO ACCOMPLISHED DANCERS. WITH YEUNG BEING FROM HONG KONG AND THE INDIAN-BORN MAITRA BASED IN SINGAPORE, THIS TEN DAYS ON THE ISLAND EVENT REPRESENTS A SELECT SAMPLE OF ORIGINAL CONTEMPORARY DANCE FROM ASIA.

Yeung’s Medi.C proposes applying healing principles from traditional Chinese medicine to the body, mind and soul of New China. This ambitious concept is explored through highly energetic, virtually non-stop movement. Yeung’s scantily-clad body is nimble and flexible—running, bending, spinning, pivoting and cartwheeling in a veritable demonstration of the physical abilities of a human body in its prime.

Moving image projection, with a rhythmic soundtrack of industrial and bodily noise, is central to Yeung’s performance. He engages with a low-positioned projector to create a series of fantastic visual effects with and on his body. When the apex of split and mirrored cityscape footage aligns with the centre of his chest, he appears to speed through time and space. Later, his form becomes a pulsing network of multicoloured meridian pathways.

Yeung is constantly tethered to the audio-visual components of his production. For the most part, his synchronisation is a testament to his supreme discipline as a physical performer. On the few occasions where his timing fails I am conscious of watching a routine that has, perhaps, been too strictly choreographed. Yeung’s background in visual art may account for his intellectual approach to dancing, and his concern here to integrate his artform so tightly with other media.

In contrast, Raka Maitra’s performance—an exploration on the theme of water—is a freer, slower paced and more evocative experience. Digital projection is employed with greater delicacy, abstract imagery being projected downwards onto the stage floor creating a series of ‘pools’ to be traversed. Maitra’s journey is both psychological and emotional: she begins by ‘floating’ in a foetal position, glides and struggles through various tidal forces, and eventually stands with her face turned joyously into the rain.

As a dancer, Maitra is more accessible to her audience than the disciplined Yeung. Her body is the primary tool of communication and accordingly her movement, rather than any other element of the production, holds full attention. Though her curvaceous form is veiled in a full-length crimson dress, Maitra moves articulately, full of femininity and strength. The influence of Odissi and Serraikella Chhua, traditional dance forms derived from martial arts, brings qualities of the warrior to her often earthy and primal physical expression.

These are disparate performances exploring the flexibility of dance as a communicative and inherently visual medium providing raw insight into the potential of two rising contemporary dancers.


Daniel Yeung and Raka Maitra; Ten Days on the Island, Earl Arts Centre, Launceston, April 4-5

RealTime issue #91 June-July 2009 pg. 17

© Bec Tudor; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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