Dance Dialogue: Focus on Kuik Swee Boon, Artistic Director/Festival Director and Athelyna Swee, Festival Manager M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival

M1 CONTACT festival Group Shot 2019, photo by Malcom Fu.
Fondly known as “CONTACT” to the local dance community, M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival began in 2010 to promote contemporary dance in Singapore. Directed by The Human Expression (T.H.E) Dance Company’s Artistic Director, Kuik Swee Boon, this artist-led Festival pursues an attitude of openness where every individual’s point of view is valued. A major corporate donor of T.H.E, M1 Limited (a telecommunications company) came onboard as the Festival’s title sponsor in 2014, hence leading to the Festival’s current name.

Billed for its bold curation, residency programmes, commissioning of local and international works across several platforms, as well as a smorgasbord of workshops and technique classes, the Festival has become a pillar event for the contemporary dance scene in Singapore. Most of its platforms are held in collaboration with Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts center. In 2017, the Festival was revamped with a fresh focus on supporting and featuring up-and-coming local, independent dance artists, and its dates shifted from the year-end to the mid-year period.

Since then, it has also seen the incorporation of Dance at Dusk, a non-ticketed, accessible production at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, designed specially for audiences new to the multifaceted art form of contemporary dance. Off Stage, an intimate studio sharing of works-in-progress by local dance artists in different draft stages of their creation processes, was also introduced in the same year.

In recent years, the Festival has gradually allowed different voices to enter and shape its programmes. Besides an annual international open call which received close to 200 applications in 2018, the Festival has also built partnerships and exchanges with various international festivals such as MASDANZA International Contemporary Dance Festival of the Canary Islands in Spain; Machol Shalem Dance House in Jerusalem, Israel; Body.Radical International Performing Arts Biennial in Budapest, Hungary; Supercell – Festival of Contemporary Dance in Brisbane, Australia; New Italian Dance (NID) Platform in Italy; Fukuoka Dance Fringe Festival & Odoru Akita International Dance Festival in Japan; New Dance for Asia – NDA International Festival & Seoul International Dance Festival (SIDance) in South Korea; H.D.X. – Hong Kong Dance Exchange International Festival in Hong Kong; Contemporary Dance Exchange (CDE) Springboard in Macau. In the past year, it has also introduced an inaugural advisory panel for one of its platforms, leading to a more panoramic consideration of the final programme line-up. 

As one of Singapore’s arts writers, bakchormeeboy, described in 2018, “M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival has become a staple of the Singapore dance scene, and aims to dispel the myth of incomprehensibility while presenting quality international and regional works and championing new local artists.”

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