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Travel writer and avid book collector Azhari Mahmood, aka Zari Malaysiana, is a man on a mission. He loves books, especially rare Malaysian books. He aims to grow a nationwide community that appreciates and understands the value of these old books.

“Serious collectors have always been around when it comes to this kind of books. But I think a lot of younger Malaysians are now waking up to the fact that the only way to dig for our lost histories is to look through old books and to discover things. It takes effort, but it’s worth it,” says Zari.

This weekend, Zari is putting together the “Book Street” corner, which he calls “a pocket event” in conjunction with Collector’s Pick Merdeka market at Amcorp Mall in Petaling Jaya from Aug 30 to Sept 1.

The three-day rare book fair, starting this Friday morning, is all about gathering an independent community of vintage book sellers, and the focus will be on a vast selection of collectible and out-of-print books, rare antique maps, prints, photographs, manuscripts and antiquities, some over 100 years old.

A majority of the vendors are specialists in British Malaya-era vintage books and rare South-East Asian publications. An array of Malaysian first edition books from the 1960s and 1970s will also be available alongside contemporary books, indie publications, comics and fanzines.

This weekend’s vendors include GMS Buku, Pelita Dhihin, Balai Buku Raya, Taman Pustaka, Rumah Klasik Kuantan, Padajiwa, Obscura Malaysia, Kedai Hitam Putih, Antique Depot Buku and ITBM (Institut Terjemahan Buku Malaysia).

“I just wanted to start something new with this ‘Book Street’ idea. Vintage markets, admittedly, can be overwhelming, so to have all the book vendors in a dedicated area is a good thing. There will be 17 vendors. Due to space constraints, we had to limit ourselves.

“Book lovers will find a fascinating treasure trove. Think of it as a trip to an exhibit or museum.  I’ve organised the Book Street in such a way that newcomers can explore the diversity of vintage books, while regulars will also have plenty to pick from,” says Zari, who will be manning his book stall called Malaysiana.

Zari does admit that rare book prices can be steep for casual collectors, but he has picked out a wide variety of vendors to ensure there will be enough affordable books and bargains to go around.

“At the last book event in Amcorp, a vendor sold a copy of the Malay Peninsula, a 1907 book by German photographer Charles J. Kleingrothe, for RM6,000. It was snapped up quickly by an ardent collector. It was a rare boxed portfolio book. That gives you an indication of the value of such books.

“But that’s not to say you cannot snap up a bargain if you’re on a budget. There will be plenty of books to choose from and you might get lucky with a gem or two,” says Zari.

The Book Street initiative is also a good opportunity to network, especially for an event driven by a community of vendors, collectors and newcomers.

Zari also reveals that more grassroots rare book fairs are being planned to coincide with Kuala Lumpur named as the World Book Capital for the year 2020 by Unesco.

“We believe in community spirit. The Book Street, we hope, is a start of something very exciting for book lovers at a grassroots level. Also, since KL is the World Book Capital next year, we better make reading a habit,” he concludes.


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PUTRAJAYA – Karakter animasi kegemaran kanak-kanak, ‘Ejen Ali’, ‘Didi’ dan ‘Yaya’, merupakan antara tarikan yang ditampilkan pada perarakan sambutan Hari Kebangsaan 2019 di sini pada Sabtu ini.

Penampilan ketiga-ketiga belon gergasi karakter tersebut merupakan inisiatif Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional Malaysia (Finas) untuk menyerikan lagi sambutan hari kebangsaan.

“Mereka memang terkenal, dan kami di Finas percaya ia akan menjadi daya penarik kepada semua hadirin nanti,” kata Ketua Unit Media dan Dokumentasi Finas Jamaludin Bakar ketika dihubungi Bernama hari ini.

Jamaludin berkata Finas menjangka karakter-karakter itu akan ‘popular’ dalam kalangan pengunjung untuk bergambar.

Perarakan belon gergasi berukuran antara 30 kaki hingga 40 kaki itu akan bermula dari bangunan Kementerian Belia dan Sukan dan berakhir di Kementerian Kewangan.

“Pasukan kami akan berhenti di bangunan Kementerian Kewangan, jadi orang ramai boleh berjumpa dan mengambil foto kenangan,” kata Jamaludin.

Perarakan itu juga akan disertai dengan penampilan pelbagai maskot animasi negara.

Ejen Ali merupakan siri animasi terbitan Primeworks Studios bersama Wau Animation yang mengisahkan seorang pelajar bernama Ali, yang menjadi perisik untuk sebuah pertubuhan rahsia.

Yaya pula seorang gadis bertudung ‘pink’ dalam animasi Boboiboy, dan mempunyai kuasa manipulasi graviti manakala Didi, salah seorang karakter Didi &Friends.


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PETALING JAYA: Tickets for popular Indian artiste S.P. Balasubrahmanyam’s (pix) performance on the night of the Merdeka celebrations went on sale long before approval was obtained from the authorities, and this almost left the organizer in a jam.

Fortunately, cool heads prevailed and the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal), the approving authority, and the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim), which raised objections, agreed that the concert could proceed four hours earlier than scheduled.

Puspal denied ever issuing a support letter to the organiser – Raaghav Productions – for the performance to be held from 7pm to 11pm on Saturday.

“We were notified only recently that there should not be any performance after sunset (7.30pm) as it would clash with the Awal Muharram celebrations.

Raaghav Productions has taken to social media to inform fans on the change.

“Puspal and Jakim have raised concerns that holding the show at 7.30pm might cause uneasiness among Muslims, which could lead to racial controversies,” the organiser said.

“As a mark of respect for Awal Muharram celebrations and to get approval for the show, we had to bring the show time forward to prevent any untoward incident,” it added.

Puspal has said that based on information provided by the organiser to Jakim dated Aug 13, it was noted that ticket sales commenced in March, before an application to host the concert was made.

It initially rejected the application based on Jakim’s advice and view that the a more appropriate date should be picked but agreed to allow the event to be held with adjustment to the timing.


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PETALING JAYA: Malaysia hopes to have an audience reach of between two million and four million in its tourism push using social media.

The Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board has invited 25 social media influencers and key opinion leaders from nine Asean countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – to write about tourism destinations in the country.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said on Monday night 70.1% of tourist arrivals in 2018 are from Asean countries.

“Being in the same Southeast Asia region, we are all naturally each other’s largest source of tourist arrivals,” Mohamaddin said at the Malaysia-Asean Tourism Influencers Key Opinion Leaders Programme dinner.

He said the programme is to leverage on regional social media influencers and their fanbase to promote tourist destinations in Malaysia, especially as a build-up to the Visit Malaysia 2020 promotion campaign.

“We are excited to follow the participants’ adventures and experiences throughout the programme on their social media platforms from the sharing and reposting of their entries,” Mohamaddin said.

His speech was read out by the Malaysia Tourism deputy director-general (planning) Zulkifly Md Said.

Mohamaddin said the participants are expected to generate 30 to 40 stories consisting of feature articles, postings, live feeds and stories on Facebook, lnstagram, YouTube, Twitter and blogs.

They will travel in separate groups to explore all attractions in all 13 states in Malaysia.

They will also witness Merdeka Day celebrations in Putrajaya on Aug 31.

The programme is a mix of sightseeing, hands-on activities and self-exploration by the influencers to provide a well-rounded experience of Malaysia.


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KOTA MARUDU – Usia bukan penghalang bagi seorang petani, Mundan Gomosi, 69, melakukan larian solo sejauh 36 kilometer sempena sambutan Hari Kebangsaan tahun ini.

Bapa kepada sembilan anak itu memulakan larian dari Kampung Talantang pada 5 pagi ke Bukit Gana sebelum kembali semula ke Kampung Talantang dengan melengkapkan larian sejauh 36 kilometer dalam tempoh enam jam 35 minit, Sabtu lepas.

“Saya mula serius dengan aktiviti larian sejak 2018 dan tahun ini saya memilih untuk berkolaborasi dengan Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia (JaPen) Sabah untuk memberi sokongan terhadap sambutan Bulan Kebangsaan tahun ini.

“Larian solo ini adalah salah satu cara untuk mengungkapkan semangat kemerdekaan dalam diri saya. Ia juga bagi membuktikan kemampuan saya selaku warga emas yang sering kali dipandang rendah oleh orang luar iaitu tiada keupayaan melakukan apa-apa,” katanya kepada Bernama pada program Bulan Kebangsaan dan Kibar Jalur Gemilang Peringkat Daerah Kota Marudu di sini, hari ini.

Program itu dirasmikan Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri Tandek Datuk Anita Baranting.

Mundan berharap aktiviti seumpama ini menjadi inspirasi kepada masyarakat khususnya sahabat seusianya supaya menjaga kesihatan dengan baik dan seterusnya membuktikan warga emas masih mampu menyumbang kepada negara.

Katanya pada mulanya beliau hanya menjadikan aktiviti larian sebagai penawar rindu kepada mendiang isterinya, Randumi Masangkin yang meninggal dunia pada Oktober 2014.

Namun katanya aktiviti berkenaan akhirnya bertukar menjadi hobi lantas mencetuskan idea kepadanya untuk melakukan larian solo sempena sambutan Bulan Kebangsaan dan Kibar Jalur Gemilang tahun ini.


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Hias kedai makan dengan Jalur Gemilang

August 22, 2019 | Culture, Inspiring | No Comments

BATU PAHAT – Seorang peniaga di Kampung Mohd Noor, Tongkang Pechah, di sini, sanggup mengeluarkan duit poketnya sendiri bagi menghiasi kedai makannya dengan Jalur Gemilang.

Mohd Suffian Md Ali, 36, berkata, sejak empat tahun lalu, dia bersama isterinya, Norshelyza Talib, 35, tidak akan ketinggalan menghias premis perniagaannya itu dengan tema kemerdekaan setiap kali bulan Ogos menjelma.

“Ini merupakan salah satu cara saya sebagai rakyat Malaysia untuk menzahirkan rasa cinta terhadap negara ini walaupun kos yang saya keluarkan tidak begitu besar iaitu kira-kira RM350 untuk menghiasi kedai ini.

“Ada orang pernah pertikaikan dan cakap di belakang bahawa saya hanya membazirkan wang buat semua ini, namun ia tidak mematahkan semangat saya, malah bertambah bangga apabila apa yang saya lakukan ini, mendapat perhatian mereka,” katanya kepada Sinar Harian.

Menurut bapa kepada tiga anak itu, langkah tersebut juga merupakan salah satu cara untuknya mempromosikan kedainya yang terkenal dengan ‘Roti Canai Terbang’ apabila ada ramai pelanggan yang datang untuk makan dan mengambil gambar.

Katanya, bagi menampilkan kelainan pada tahun ini, dia akan memakai pakaian yang berkaitan dengan kemerdekaan bagi menyemarakkan lagi semangat patriotiknya berbanding hanya menghias kedainya dengan Jalur Gemilang seperti tahun-tahun sebelumnya.

“Saya akan memakainya selama sebulan sehinggalah pada sambutan Hari Malaysia pada 16 September nanti dan sebenarnya saya rasa janggal pula kalau tibanya Bulan Kebangsaan ini saya tidak berbuat apa-apa.

“Sebelum ini saya bekerja di Australia dan bila berada di luar negara, saya lihat masih ramai lagi rakyat Malaysia yang menyambut kemerdekaan walaupun jauh dan sebab itu tidak ada sebab untuk saya tidak menyambutnya secara meriah di sini (Malaysia),” katanya.

Katanya, pada tahun ini isterinya yang menyediakan menu chicken chop dan nasi lemak di gerainya itu, akan turut serta dengannya mengenakan pakaian secara seragam sama ada pakaian berkaitan dengan Jalur Gemilang atau yang berkaitan semangat kenegaraan.

Menurutnya, dia berharap usaha kecil yang dilakukannya ini dapat menyuntik semangat cintakan negara, khususnya dalam kalangan golongan muda, untuk menyambut kemerdekaan negara dengan penuh rasa syukur terhadap keamanan dan kemakmuran yang dikecapi.

“Tidak ketinggalan juga ketiga-tiga anak kami yang berusia antara 11, 13 dan 16 tahun yang akan memakai (pakaian) yang sama seperti kami, agar gerai makan kami ini meriah dan mempunyai tarikan yang tersendiri.

“Dalam masa yang sama ia mampu untuk mendidik anak-anak kami untuk mencintai negara serta mengetahui pengorbanan mereka yang terdahulu untuk menjadikan negara ini bebas daripada belenggu penjajah,” katanya.


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‘Spellbound’ to return with fresh talents

August 21, 2019 | Art, Culture | No Comments

SUTRA Foundation is restaging Spellbound Odissi but this time the production will feature young dancers from its outreach programme.

With artistic direction by Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, Spellbound is one of Sutra’s most successful international productions of Odissi that premiered in 2005 at Istana Budaya.

The restaging will be held for one night only on Sept 4 at 8.30pm at Shantanand Auditorium in Temple of Fine Arts, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

During its premiere season in Malaysia, Spellbound captured two Boh Cameronian Awards for Best Direction (under Ramli) and Best Set Design by Sutra’s Sivarajah Natarajan.

As part of Sutra’s World Tour 2006, Spellbound was also presented at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Toronto, Paris, Windsor and Zurich.

Ramil said the Sutra Dance Outreach Programme started in 2013.

The intention was to offer opportunities to children and teenagers (ages six to 15) to benefit from formal training in dance.

“Our main objective is to provide the best teaching methods and early exposure to the exciting and creative world of Indian dance.

“Simultaneously, Sutra is also keen to discover new dance talents outside Kuala Lumpur to continue the legacy of our next generation of dancers,” he said during an interview at Sutra Foundation in Kuala Lumpur.

Datuk Ramli Ibrahim (standing second from right) in a scene of the Odissi dance during the Indian Dance Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Photo by JAY MANDAL.

The 13 young dancers in Spellbound were chosen from Kajang, Rawang, Ladang Sungai Choh and Kuala Selangor.

They include Dhevakumaran Mathevan, 16, Kirthana Sukumaran, 14, Aiswaryaa Errisson, 13, Deepa Jayabalan, 14, and Hareen Loganathan, 16.

“We wanted to reach out to Indian communities outside Kuala Lumpur.

“It is not like these youths are less privileged, but to a certain extent they are less exposed to better teachers and classes.

“If they cannot afford classes, they can get a scholarship from Sutra,” said Ramli, adding that auditions were mostly carried out at Tamil schools and temples in these areas to find the best dancers.

“I wanted a strong pool of talent who were temperamentally right. You cannot teach or learn dancing if you are not inclined.

“To make the children dance Odissi was difficult. They have to go through movement classes and body conditioning before doing the proper dance,” said Ramli.

He called the outreach programme Ground Zero, as the students did not have any experience in dance, and the challenge was to empower them through a dance discipline that was attractive and challenging to unleash their creative potential.

“We needed to also convince their parents about the positive outcomes of sending their children for training,” he said.

Dhevakumaran from Kajang, who has been dancing for six years, said he was grateful for the exposure to Odissi.

“It builds our character and teaches us discipline,” he said.

Kirthana said performing had made her overcome stage fright.

Hareen’s mother, Poongkodi Amasi, said she was excited to see her son perform next month.

“I am so thrilled because he has been very interested in learning Odissi ever since we attended the Krishna Love Reinvented dance performance at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) in 2014.

“I know he is in safe hands, and I love watching him pursue his passion,” she added. Entrance to the performance is by donation.


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Dragon ship ready for ancestors

August 21, 2019 | Culture, Info | No Comments

A DRAGON-SHAPED paper ship and an effigy of the King of Hades (Tai Su Yeah) will be burnt in a final ritual to send off departed loved ones to mark the seventh lunar month celebration.

The ceremony will take place on Saturday night at the Sian Chye Tong Temple at 395, Hye Keat Estate, Ayer Itam, Penang.

This will be the last day of the temple’s Filial Piety Celebration (Cheow Thor) which began on Aug 1.

Temple youth section chairman Loh Choon Teik said the paper ship (Say Hong Chun) is 6.1m long, 1.83m wide and 4.88m high.

“The framework of the ship is made of bamboo and cardboard while the exterior is covered with more than 8, 000 pieces of folded ‘Ong Seng Jee’ (joss paper with sutras imprinted).

“The ship will be filled with folded Ong Seng Jee and other joss paper.

“The design, shape and structure of the ship have been improvised with a dragon head and tail to make it look more impressive, just like an emperor’s ship.

“As for the effigy of Tai Su Yeah, it is touted to be the only such design in the state which is made of Ong Seng Jee.

“The effigy, which is 3.96m tall and 1.52m wide, is made of bamboo and cardboard.

“It will have 3, 000 pieces of Ong Seng Jee on it, ” he said adding that five youth members took two weeks to complete the figurine.

Loh said that paper tablets bearing the names of the deceased and the date which they died would be placed in front of a beautifully decorated Amitabha Buddha’s altar during the ‘Cheow Thor’ celebration for daily offerings and chanting.

“This celebration is significant to all living descendants to show their gratitude as well as filial piety towards their departed ancestors and loved ones.

“During this celebration, living descendants will make offerings (Dana).

“Prayers are held to accrue meritorious deeds for the departed ones in order to attain speedy rebirth.

Twenty Sangha members will be invited to recite prayers for the ancestors on Friday at 7pm.

The ceremony will include the offering of robes (Sanghikadana) to Sangha members, Loh added.

Temple religious advisor Venerable Seck Chin Sooi as well as other monks and nuns will conduct day-long chanting and prayers on Saturday and all the paper tablets will be placed in the ‘Say Hong Chun’ and burnt.

“The ‘Say Hong Chun’ represents Amitabha Buddha’s effort to ferry the deceased to Buddha Pure Land for repentance and rebirth, ” he said.

During the celebration, there will be food offerings as well as burning of incense and joss paper for the visiting spirits of departed loved ones.

Vegetarian food will be served on Saturday at 7pm. Those interested in participating in the Cheow Thor can call the temple (04-828 3296) or Linda (010-337 2747).


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A work by a Malaysian author has won a Hugo Award, widely considered to be the premier award for science fiction.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, by Zen Cho, received the Hugo Award for Best Novelette at a ceremony during the 77th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug 18.

This award is given to the best science fiction or fantasy story of between 7,500 and 17,500 words published in the prior calendar year.

Also nominated in this category were works by Tina Connolly, Daryl Gregory, Brooke Bolander, Naomi Kritzer and Simone Heller.

“I’m thrilled. It was unexpected – I was pleased to be nominated because I was attending Worldcon this year anyway, and I was keen to go to the Hugo Losers party hosted each year by George R.R. Martin. But I had my bets about who would win and it wasn’t me!” Cho said, when contacted via Facebook.

According to Cho, the story was written after she had struggled with a very challenging writing project that had left her feeling like a failure.

“It’s about how life is about more than success and failure, but also how it’s important that you don’t give up on the things you really want. It feels like a reward from the universe to have the story recognised in this way – a balm for many years of effort and rejection!” Cho said.

Born and raised in Selangor, Cho, 33, is currently based in Britain, where she works as a lawyer.

She is the author of two novels, Sorcerer To The Crown (2015) and its sequel, The True Queen (2019). She edited the anthology Cyberpunk Malaysia (2015).

Her first published work, the anthology Spirits Abroad, was a joint winner of the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award in 2015 (with Stephanie Feldman). Sorcerer To The Crown also won the 2016 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer.

The Hugo Awards are a set of literary awards voted on by members of the current World Science Fiction Convention and presented annually by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works of the previous year.

First awarded in 1953, they are named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.


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An artistic portrayal of human intricacies – that’s what the audience can expect when Kenny Shim & Collective and British-based Mobius Dance present their dance works this weekend at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) in Petaling Jaya.

The collaborative effort called Mix Bill, from Aug 2-4, will see four contemporary works being performed by nine dancers, four of whom are local.

Under the artistic direction of Gianluca Vincentini, Mobius Dance will present an energetic and highly physical performance featuring two robust works, bringing together two generations of choreographers Jamaal Burkmar and Douglas Thorpe.

“Lovers of both dance and music will be enthralled by Burkmar’s Time Moves Slow, an incredibly passionate, fast-paced and dynamic work, where relentless physicality pulls the dancers to their extremes,” says Vincentini in an interview.

Burkmar’s offering is seen through four different perspectives, inspired by four different songs and acknowledges four heroes tasked with climbing the same mountain and overcoming the same challenge – embracing the choice to do it together rather than alone.

“On the other hand, Thorpe creates a powerful, theatrical piece in Dramatis Personae, which plays with the peculiarities of four characters, whose awkward interactions result in a work with compelling and intertwined dynamics.

“The two pieces provide a thrilling contrast of movement and dance. It is a chance to see young dancers who are at the peak of their fitness, training and performance to tackle the rich, quality and diverse choreographic approaches of Burkmar and Thorpe,” he adds.

Originally from Italy, Vincentini founded the company in 2016 and believes that dance can reveal the complexity of our intimate connections to each other, without compromising entertainment.

“The commissioned choreographer’s work is accessible in nature and style while remaining a refreshing and entertaining evening of dance for those with a more accustomed dance palette,” he says, pointing out that each choreographer’s work represents his individual spirit while embracing the multicultural face of the world.

Slowly carving a name for himself in the local circuit is Shim, who will explore the human intricacies in a thought-provoking dance work entitled Shades Of Shadow, based on Swiss-born British writer Alain de Botton’s book The Course Of Love. The book piqued his curiosity to dig deeper into understanding human empathy between relationships and how such empathy (or lack of) leads to the possibility of inequality in a relationship.

“There is a quote in the book that I resonated deeply with ‘The modern expectation is that there will be equality in all things. In a couple, which means, at heart, an equality of suffering. But calibrating grief to ensure an equal dosage is no easy task; misery is experiences subjectively, and there is always a temptation for each party to form a sincere yet competitive conviction that, in truth, his or her life is really more cursed,’” reveals Shim.

Watch how this quote unfolds in dance form.

It was literally love at first class when Shim started learning ballet at a late age of 17. Flowing with passion, he took a leap of faith, auditioned and was accepted at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance.

He eventually completed his masters at the London Contemporary Dance School, and after spending seven years abroad, Shim returned home in 2017 to contribute to the development of the Malaysian contemporary dance scene.

“I was very fortunate to have met Gianluca during my time in Edge Dance Company and we’ve kept in contact. He is interested in nurturing dance artistes to their fullest potential, which trickles down to the artistes he hires for his company.

“He curates work that is both accessible to new contemporary dance audiences as well as veterans of the practice. The pieces entertain and engage the audience through the world of highly ‘physicalised’ dancing,” he says.

The final dance piece Human is a collaborative work between dancers from both companies, co-choreographed by Vincentini and Shim.

It explores the entwined nature of movement and emotion, while looking at the current condition of humanity. The starting point of the work is a reflection Vincentini wrote, which goes like this: “Happy smile, Happy war, Happy living together, But perhaps not too close, Excitement yields calm, Calm turns melancholic, Melancholy induces panic, Our senses mute, Such hopeful desperation attempts harmony”.

“This work has been created with the performers, who have contributed by devising material based on movement tasks. Images and emotional states were introduced to the performers so that, together, we could find the appropriate form and aesthetic. Individuality was encouraged as much as the sharing of personal stories,” says Vincentini.

Shim concludes, “Unlike learning a repertoire, all the dancers are in the studio together. This encourages further exchange of dance practices and working culture. The exchange enhances the work with ‘flavour’ and diversity.”


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