Lifestyle · Performing Arts

A Japanese-Malaysian Dance Treat

The versatile cast of Un Yamada's Double Bill: The Rite of Spring & one
The versatile cast of Un Yamada’s Double Bill: The Rite of Spring & one

Malaysian dance enthusiasts are in for a treat this weekend with a Double Bill: onepiece and The Rite of Spring by renowned Japanese dance company, Co. Un Yamada; together with five selected home grown dancers.

The full length show is in collaboration with the dance company, The Japan Foundation Asia Center, the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (ASWARA) and MyDance Alliance. At the press conference on Thursday, the partnerships were represented by Shoichi Toyoda, Director, The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur, Joseph Gonzales, Founder & Artistic Director of ASWARA, Dr. Wong Oi Min, Dean, Faculty of Theatre, ASWARA, Suhaili Micheline on behalf of MyDance Alliance and Un Yamada, Founder of Co. Un Yamada.

For the five panellists, the excitement of the upcoming show is evident, and this writer confesses to looking forward to seeing this contemporary performance at KLPac’s Pentas 1 this weekend.

Exuberant about the show is Joseph Gonzales, no stranger to the dance and performing arts community in Malaysia, thanks to his 35 years in the industry, particularly in the genre of dance.

Sharing his own story with those present, Joseph said he was inspired by Patrick Harding-Irmer from London Contemporary Dance Theatre and decided dance was something he wanted to do in his life. His passion-filled career has taken him beyond his expectations, and today Joseph is actively creating platforms for dancers in the country to spread their artistic wings and dance.

Auditions for “onepiece” took place at ASWARA’s space after Joseph spread the news of the possible project to Malaysian dancers, from as far as Perlis to Sabah.  Held in October last year, the competition to dance in the production saw Yamada pick five dancers – Fauzi Amirudin, James Kan, Lu Wit Chin, Pengiran Khairul Qayyum, and Raziman Sarbini as part of the ensemble, to present the seminal creation.

“It is not only important for young dancers to be taught by Malaysian teachers (who are very good) but also to tell them of the possibility of a career in the arts, beyond which they imagine for themselves in the country,” said Joseph, at the press conference in KLPac on Thursday.

He added that while many shows are produced in the country yearly, the Malaysian dance and performing arts industry still have benchmarks to reach – like Until the Lions playing to 17,300 people in London last week.

The Founder and Artistic Director of ASWARA Dance Company first “fell in love” with Un Yamada, the choreographer, dancer and director of Co. Un Yamada in 2013, when she was a part of ASWARA’s line up at the annual dance festival  Tari in 2013.

Since her first visit to Malaysia in 2012 in collaboration with MyDance Alliance’s Work It! Yamada, was inspired by the talents and wanted to connect to Malaysia. Giving five young male dancers in the country a chance to perform in “onepiece.”, a dance she choreographed 11 years ago, she anticipates the fresh perspective of her early work.

“In the past, it never crossed my mind to have my works performed by dancers outside of my own company. However, through my years of visiting Malaysia, I have watched many young dancers perform, as well as interacted with them, their mentors who are fostering the next generation and people who continue to support the dance scene.  I am deeply impressed by the possibilities available,” revealed Yamada.

Sharing their sense of pride and anticipation for the upcoming production, the dancers’ two week experience in the studio in Tokyo with Yamada have equipped them with lessons and experiences beyond language barriers, cultural intricacies and dance movements.

Other than “onepiece.”, 13 Japanese dancers are set to perform The Rite of Spring, which features music by Stravinsky and features the nature of life, death and rebirth. Premiering in Chigasaki in 2013 to commemorate the centenary of the ballet and orchestral classic, the piece is a display of intense movement and emotional impact.

The artistic collaboration was made possible by a grant from The Japan Foundation, a non-profit organisation established in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur with the aim of promoting mutual cultural exchange between Japan and Malaysia.

Catch the contemporary piece by the Japanese-Malaysian talents on January 30 (8.30pm) and January 31 (5pm) at Pentas 1, KLPac. Tickets are at RM43. For bookings contact KLPac at 03-40479000 or visit


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