Get up close with artists from your living room
While many performance spaces and shows remain on hold, a new online series, From the Living Room, made its debut on 11 May, bringing the best of Singapore’s music and dance into viewers’ homes every weeknight. Commissioned by the National Arts Council (NAC) as part of the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign, the series pairs 30 home-grown artists and groups with hosts, who introduce viewers to their practice before performances by the artists. The line-up includes dancer Sandhya Suresh hosted by actor Jeramy Lim, in an episode streaming on the NAC Facebook page on 23 June at 8pm.
Suresh is a dancer, dance teacher and associate artistic director of Chowk Productions, a dance company in Singapore that creates and produces works based on the classical Indian dance style Odissi.
Lim is a theatre practitioner who acts and creates performance pieces. He is also a founding member of The Assembly Point, an ensemble-based theatre collective in Singapore.
We checked in with Lim and Suresh to find out how they are doing in these times and what keeps them going.
What are you doing to help you cope with these tough times?
Lim: I really wanted to nap and do nothing, but I ultimately caved in to being productive. It might sound shallow, but I am learning a lot about skincare. I am also reading academic literature for my next solo piece. It is about coping with illness and utopianism, which I find to be very relevant now. I have also put up a digital piece for the Australian theatre company, Squid Vicious, and an Instagram series, #TAP90sBABY, with The Assembly Point. I have been dabbling in music production as well; we’ll see where that takes me.
Suresh: I have been using this time to actively address the thoughts and ideas that run through my head daily, but which I often put off due to a lack of time, mental space and energy. I have been exploring, for example, the concept of honesty through stillness by choreographing short, simple pieces to effectively express an idea or narrative. I am also re-examining how I use classical dance training to strengthen my body and physical grace as a dancer. I have also been conducting free body conditioning sessions through Chowk for people who want to work on their body awareness, strength and flexibility from home.
How did you find your passion for art?
Lim: Through wanting to express myself. Since young, I have tried different mediums of art, from drawing to photography and performance. I am constantly finding ways to bring my message across to others through my art.
Suresh: Dance, from ballet to bharatanatyam (a form of Indian classical dance), has always been a part of my life since I was four. But I only realised my true passion for dance between the ages of 16 and 17, when I made the independent decision to chase my dreams and take the polytechnic-route to get a diploma in technology and arts management from Republic Polytechnic. That, as well as other performance experiences I had, and the support of my family, led me to complete a bachelor’s degree in dance from the Lasalle College of the Arts. From there, my passion has only grown.
What do you hope the post-COVID-19 world will be like?
Lim: I hope that everyone will be more empathetic. To me, that is the purpose of art – to help people appreciate complexities and empathise with others; I do believe we are heading in the right direction. I am also excited to see how artists, myself included, navigate digital performance and debates about what “live” means, now that the conventions of theatre are changing.
Suresh: I do wish that people will realise and acknowledge that the arts is what they turn to in these times, and I hope that with this realisation, they will start to support all the good art out there and the local art scene in Singapore.