Inspiring Conversations

It’s What I Want

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Let us give control balance, by giving you what you want, while I make the options. daniel k challenges us or appeases us with this commissioned piece for the Singapore Arts Festival 2009.

Q&A, a performance by daniel k @ Esplanade Theatre Studio, part of a double bill, Forward Moves, June 6th, 2009 – June 7th, 2009

An article by Penny V

What do the artist and the audience expect from each other?

Is this what you want?

Is this what you want?

A question posed by contemporary dancer daniel k in his attempt to find a balance in trying to please everyone with his performance. Teaming up with a crew consisting of a sociologist, an economist and dramaturge, daniel embarked on a study to choreograph the ‘perfect’ dance where the audience need no longer be passive.

With focus group made up of Singaporeans from an array of professions and age groups in hand, daniel k sets up a production not unlike Theatresports, a form of improvisational theatre; where the audience dictates what they would like to see based on his sociological analysis. It ranges from general movement, aspects of dance, music preference and lighting to costumea, props and set design.

Wrapped in darkness and tight skinny jeans, daniel dances to Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. A performance that is dramatic but lacks a technical polish – but that isn’t the point anyway.

Once he is done, daniel dons a bow-tie and a pair of glasses and proceeds to give a sterling presentation on a qualitative and quantitative study of the ideals of the Singaporean audience its demands, or preferences for a dance performance.

Humorous and hugely sarcastic, daniel k pokes fun at the stereotypical Singaporean approach to all subject matter, with their Powerpoints (his were fancier and catchy), statistics (presented so stylishly) and formalised conclusions. His research findings were also compiled into a handy book for further reference of course.

With the rule of majority, after all this is a democracy, daniel k’s initial performance was a response to his findings that include set design, music choice and theme. Carefully and cleverly straddling an inventive and experimental approach with gentle mockery, he reassures you that your opinions matter to him.

Centred on the ideal that the artist desires to be desirable, with the singular need to be validated and affirmed without giving away total control, daniel k asks, what do you want to change?

I’ll do it your way and let’s see what we get

After repeating the dance a second time, so we can verify his findings, daniel gives us the choice to set the mood, the costume, the theme, the music that ranges from electro pop to rock. With the help of crew members armed with ticket counters, the majority vote is taken and daniel ends up wrapped in black tape this time, dancing and spinning to an electric beat.

Satisfaction guaranteed? As an audience member and appreciative dance student his repetitive performance left me wanting more. After all, we just changed the packaging and added in our own effects. I would have to concede though that the main attraction was the concept and as a whole, I can fairly say that I enjoyed myself.

Especially when he waves you adieu with a grin that says it all: “It’s what you wanted so you have to like it, no?”

These are your options.

These are your options.

daniel k studied Fine Art and Critical Theory at Goldsmiths College (London) under a Singapore Public Service Commission scholarship, and Choreography at the Laban Centre. His performances have toured Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok. He received the 2008 Young Artist Award (Dance) from the National Arts Council Singapore.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe
25 – 30 August, 11:30am
£5 – £8
NEW TOWN THEATRE (fringe venue 7), Freemasons’ Hall, 96 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 3DH
Tickets & Info: 0844 477 1000 |

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