Art of the Rehearsal by Sarah Choo Jing joining Chrysler Museum, Norfolk

Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, April 26, 2021

The three-channel video invites visitors to narrow back streets lined with low-lying homes and shops. There, you can explore the diverse ethnic communities of the city-state through various forms of dance.

 

Nine dancers in costume pose at the ground level and on rooftops until drum music plays. As the music starts, each dancer performs traditional choreography such as Bharatanatyam and Silat. They begin and end at different intervals; some are slightly hidden behind curtains and screens. The dancers from Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities represent the thriving diversity of the city-state. Using green screens, Jing sets the performances in neighborhoods throughout Singapore including Kampong Glam, the Muslim quarter; Little India; and Chinatown.

 

The title of the work references the rigorous physical and mental labor performers must endure to produce a final work. Jing says she seeks to present “the consistent determination of the performers. The emphasis here is on the process rather than on the final outcome.” By performing in the street, a public area, the defined space of theatre collapses into the social space of the world. It is unclear if the artists are performing or rehearsing and difficult to discern the difference between the two.

 

Art of the Rehearsal displays the power of cultural expression in its myriad of forms and gives Chrysler visitors a glimpse into a multi-ethnic community of which they may know little. Jing’s filmic work is visually captivating and gets viewers excited about the societies and situations she depicts.