BIRD is a visually stunning dance production brought to George Town Festival 2019 by two renowned collaborators, the visual theatre company WHS from Finland and the Pichet Klunchun Dance Company from Thailand. Fittingly, while BIRD itself is a product of international partnership, the show is also centred around the theme of international relations. Employing visual metaphors of doves, cages and nests, the production makes social and political commentaries from the perspective of birds.
By uniting contemporary and traditional aspects of Finnish and Thai dance forms, the show collapses cultural differences and highlights human unity. For instance, fake bird props are used in place of the masks that are featured in Khon, a traditional Thai court dance. On a more global scale, too, BIRD uses expressive dance and cage-like structures to blur lines between ‘nests’ and ‘bird cages’, between nations that are safe and protected and ones that are entrapping and unwelcoming.
The show’s conceit draws inspiration from Aristophanes’ classical play The Birds: just as Aristophanes wrote this play as a satire of Athens’ doomed imperialistic attempt to conquer Syracuse in 415 BCE, this contemporary production invites commentary on prevalent issues such as refugees and global politics.
Pichet Klunchun, the choreographer of BIRD, is no stranger to exploring such topics through dance. In 2008, he was awarded the Princess Margriet Award by the European Cultural Foundation, an honour that recognises artists who use their work to deconstruct the ‘othering’ of different cultures, quell fears of cultural differences and therefore bring audiences together.
Similarly, WHS is an association that regularly collaborates with international groups outside of Finland and has performed in over 30 countries, from Belgium to Israel, from Latvia to Mexico.
The long-established reputation of both dance companies ensures that BIRD, on a choreographic and general aesthetic level, will be beautiful in its own right, political metaphors aside. It is, therefore, equally suitable for younger viewers or those who want to watch some top-quality dance.
When? – July 26th & 27th 2019, 8.30PM
Where? – Dewan Budaya, USM
How much? – RM40 / RM 25 (concessions)
For who? – 7+
Get your tickets here.
Written by: Eleanor Ohlsen