Ecstasy in Pose

TANZPLATTFORM 2022 >>> Choy Ka Fai entangles ballroom and Shamanism, bodies and technology in “Yishun is Burning“ (HAU2, 16./17. March 2022). This text was written as part of a two-day tanzschreiber writing workshop during Tanzplattform 2022 and under the direction of Mareike Theile, Johanna Withelm, and Alex Hennig. Inspired by a passion for writing and an exchange about dance and dance critique, the authors had an opportunity to challenge and expand their own writing practice. Text: Alica Minar.


“I leave the theater and realize that the colors of the city appear much more vibrant. My sensitivity is heightened. I hear the beats of Berlin’s turbulent rhythm and feel connected to a different world metropolis. I’ve been transported to Yishun, Singapore. I am proud of what the contemporary scene has to offer and how dance builds bridges, opens the doors to freedom of expression.”

Choy Ka Fai embarked on a journey to Yishun with dancer Sun Phitthaya Phaefuang (Amazon Sun) to participate in multi-religious celebrations. They transport this experience and research for the piece in a contemporary context and interconnect movement material and transcendence with voguing, ballroom, queerness, and multi-media.

By examining the relationship between Shamanism and dance, Choy Ka Fai taps into a colorful world between here and there, between now and then. He offers us a whole series of realities. An elaborate dramaturgy, divided into smaller parts, creates a complex albeit comprehensible composition in which the various worlds may encounter each other.

The viewers can marvel at a whole range of technologies, including live-streaming and pre-recorded videos, combined with the analog dance performance by Amazon Sun and instructions by Choy Ka Fai. Technology does not play the role of fancy tool. Instead, it is a useful and indispensable cornerstone of the performance.

The stage becomes a setting when the scent of incense and the introduction of the members of the live band from Singapore reach the senses. The documentary film on the one-week Shamanism celebration ritual exudes smoke and steam from the screen into the theater.

Interviews with a Shaman and a dancer question the relationship to body, sexuality, and transcendence. Sun sees the connection between Shamanism and ballroom as a gender performance that makes surmounting the body’s own limits and attributes, and even the human condition, a possibility. We are offered the opportunity to experience the role of gods and kings and queens in Shamanism and in the ballroom, without prejudice or interpretation.

As if simultaneously both here and there, we see the main dancer, Amazon Sun, traveling back and forth between documentary film material from a past time and the analog performance of today. Imagination fully unfolds as Sun, dressed in blinking, neon, sensory jewels, engages in a playful, circular dialog with his six-armed god-like avatar on the screen. How far can our being expand? Is there even a limit on possible modulations?

A ritual electric party beat accompanied by shrill text reveals the polyphonic call of Yishun. The show reaches its final climax as three voguers enter the stage and present a ballroom event while dancing to 80s disco songs. The analogy to the film “Paris Is Burning” is now fully appreciated.

“Yishun is Burning” is an ode to the freedom of expression and a prayer for an expanded awareness of ourselves. A diverse, energetic, well cut, and nevertheless respectful journey to the celebratory rituals of our times, where tradition and hyper-reality meet.

English translation by Melissa Maldonado

Photos: “Yishun is Burning” by Choy Ka Fai © Singapore Arts Museum


“Yishun is Burning” by Choy Ka Fai was shown on 16 & 17 March at HAU2, in frame of the Tanzplattform Deutschland 2022.


Concept, Documentation and Direction: Choy Ka Fai / Dramaturgy: Tang Fu-Kuen / Spiritual Presence: Kali and Kuan Yin / Choreography and Dance Performance: Sun Phitthaya Phaefuang / Sound Design and Musical Performance: NADA (Rizman Putra & Safuan Johari) and Cheryl Ong / 3D Visual Design and Technology: Brandon Tay / Visual Artist: Sven Gareis / telematique / Light Design, Installation, Technical Direction: Ray Tseng / Technical Direction Singapore Studio: ARTFACTORY / Stage Management: Sanja Gergorić / Touring Administration: Tammo Walter / Production Manager: Mara Nedelcu / Guest Dancers: Magia Prodigy, Loki, Pavka, Jade Mugisha

Sit-Stay. Re-envisioned.

TANZPLATTFORM 2022 >>> At Radialsystem, Antje Pfundtner in Gesellschaft performed the solo “Sitzen ist eine gute Idee (“Sitting is a good idea”) on 16 and 17 March. These two texts were written as part of a two-day tanzschreiber writing workshop during Tanzplattform 2022 and under the direction of Mareike Theile, Johanna Withelm, and Alex Hennig. Inspired by a passion for writing and an exchange about dance and dance critique, the authors had an opportunity to challenge and expand their own writing practice. Texts: Heike Brunner, Doreen Markert.

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tanzschreiber articles of the Tanzplattform Deutschland 2022 in Berlin selection

All reviews can be read here >>> From 16 to 20 March, the Tanzplattform Deutschland 2022 in Berlin, hosted by HAU Hebbel am Ufer, brings together 13 current and remarkable positions of dance and choreographic creation. Authors and guest authors from the Tanzbuero Berlin’s online review portal tanzschreiber are reviewing the 13 pieces selected for the Tanzplattform 2022 on tanzschreiber.de. Individual texts are written by the participants of the tanzschreiber writing workshop “Texte in Bewegung” under the direction of Mareike Theile, Johanna Withelm and Alex Hennig.

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Dream With Me

TANZPLATTFORM 2022 >>> In “CASCADE” by Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods, running 24-26 February at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, a collective dream of time becomes reality — or was real all along? The show is one of the selected performances of Tanzplattform Deutschland 2022 and will appear again 19 & 20 March at the Volksbühne.

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Tanz im August 2021 Talkabout #2

For the second part of their Tanz im August talkabout, Eli Frasson and Evgeny Borisenko attended the world premiere of Thiago Granato’s “The Sound They Make When No One Listens” at the Sophiensæle on 19 August 2021. After the show they sat together in the Sophiensæle’s brick-walled courtyard to discuss a show that explores the different facets and political connotations of the act of listening. The next day, on 20 August, Eli and Evgeny went to the Lilli-Hennoch-Sportplatz to attend the world premiere of “Breathe” by Milla Koistinen, in which she interacted with two huge brightly-coloured inflatable fabrics and the audience on the football pitch. After the show Eli and Evgeny found a spot near the ruins of Anhalter Bahnhof to sit and discuss the show.

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Tanz im August 2021 Talkabout #1

Tanzschreiber writers Eli Frasson and Evgeny Borisenko decided to go to three Tanz im August 2021 performances together, and then to meet up after each show to talk about what they saw. In this first part of their conversation, Evgeny and Eli discuss “WEG” by Ayelen Parolin / RUDA, the show that opened the festival at HAU1 on 6 August 2021. In the second part of their Tanz im August talkabout, they will discuss Thiago Granato’s world premiere of “The Sound They Make When No One Listens” and Milla Koistinen’s “Breathe”.

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Bodies that have fallen out of history

TANZPLATTFORM 2022 >>> The dance piece “Still Not Still” by Ligia Lewis, which was planned for April 2021 in HAU1, was presented for the time being in film format (in collaboration with film director Moritz Freudenberg) on 11 June and released on Vimeo. The work’s focus is an emotional corporeal mise-en-scène, which relies heavily on humor to express the exclusionary mechanisms of colonial and neo-liberal structures.

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Perpetual Motion Machine

Jasmin İhraç’s most recent show “liú” premiered on 15 March 2021 and was shown on HAU4 digital platform from 26 to 29 May during the Performing Arts Festival Berlin 2021. In her delicate exploration of the cycles and rhythms of nature and human life, İhraç avoids far-fetched claims and declarations and leaves the audience face to face with the miracle of the infinite time-loop. This laid-back and quiet show made me want to log these images and my thoughts, minute by minute. 

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Thoughts on Lockdown No. 2

Gob Squad first presented their 12 hour livestream performance “Show Me A Good Time” during the lockdown in June. For the second lockdown, they remade the piece into three parts, and HAU broadcast the first episode on 26 November 2020. I decided to use it as an opportunity to reflect on this latest closure of live performance venues.  

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Waves Swarm

This year, in lieu of its scheduled stage program, Tanz im August is offering an online selection of talks, films, and sound works, a digital conference, and two works in public spaces. Media and performance art collective LIGNA gives the participants in “Zerstreuung überall! Ein internationales Radioballett (Dissemination Everywhere! An international radio ballet)” an opportunity to practice a dispersed collective with the help of acoustic prompts, while still keeping to themselves.

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On Bodies Communing: An Interview with Isabelle Schad

The plan was for Isabelle Schad’s trilogy “Collective Jumps“, “Pieces and Elements” and “Reflection” to be shown for the first time in one stretch at HAU Hebbel am Ufer in June. She talks with Jette Büchsenschütz about contemplation, the collective, and the power emanating from interlocking bodies – and it becomes evident how relevant her pieces are today.

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Moving Thoughts

Within the framework of Tanz im August, French choreographer Noé Soulier attempts to explore the relationship between movement and thought with “The Waves” while Spanish choreographer duo Mal Pelo creates simultaneously delicate and powerful body poetry with “The Fifth Winter”.

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