If you love your neighbourhood, dance
Homegrown dance company P7:1SMA was inspired by the everyday stories of life in Tampines Round Market and Food Centre for its new work, District 18.  (Photo: P7:1SMA) 

If you love your neighbourhood, dance

Stallholders at the Tampines Round Market and Food Centre have their hands full with business. Shoppers and hungry diners are looking around for the best deals. Amidst this bustle of sights, sounds and smells, a group of young people are channeling the energy of the place into a dance.

The group, P7:1SMA (pronounced “Prisma”), is a young contemporary dance company that creates work based on traditional Malay dance forms. It is presenting the new work, District 18, based on life in Tampines.

District 18 is part of Arts in Your Neighbourhood, an initiative by the National Arts Council to bring engaging arts experiences right to your doorstep, at locations all over the island. The initiative spotlights a different neighbourhood each time and for this March season, the focus is on the town of Tampines.

In developing the dance, P7:1SMA’s members spoke with residents, hawkers and shop owners in Tampines to piece together their everyday routines and interactions with their surroundings. The dancers also spent time watching how the denizens went about their lives and how they carried themselves in their usual environs.

The dance group’s artistic director Norhaizad Adam says District 18 focuses largely on the market and food centre because of the captivating rhythm and ritual in the movement of hawkers and market stall owners, such as when they prepare food, wash kitchen equipment, clean their stalls and chat with customers.

The group also found that the wet market and hawker centre resonated deeply with residents’ affections and fears. It was where residents connected with others in the neighbourhood and built ties of kinship and friendship. It was also a spot that triggered anxiety about ways of life such as hawker culture and grocery shopping at the wet market, which might gradually fade away with modern day conveniences such as supermarkets and home delivery services.

Ultimately, dancer Chew Shaw En hopes District 18 will help denizens of Tampines who frequent the market see their regular haunt in new light and interact with the space in a more meaningful way.

Details about District 18 by P7:1SMA here, and information about other Arts in Your Neighbourhood events here.

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