The BOW Project

The BOW Project

In July 2013, Ng Mei-Yin, a Malaysian choreographer based in New York, and Cathy Seago, dancer and dance scholar from the UK, conducted a version of their ongoing performance work, the BOW Project, at Rimbun Dahan. The development concluded with a showing on 12 July 2013 at Damansara Performing Arts Centre.

BOW 2013 brought together choreographers/dancers from different dance forms to workshop together to explore starting points and ways in to dance-making, according to their tradition/practice. The aim was to create a number of short works from shared starting points, and to trace the journey in a meaningful and embodied way.

This was a creative and playful opportunity for inquisitive/ imaginative choreographers to develop their art, their perception and their network. Through exposing, sharing and exploring some of the innate mysteries of dance work with other artists and with a wider community we might find a greater depth to our understanding of dance, our own work and of each other.

Lead artists: Mei-Yin Ng (USA/Malaysia) & Cathy Seago (UK)

Malaysian choreographers: Christine Chew, Maniyarasi Gowindasamy, Rithaudin Abdul Kadir

Music performers: The Music Professional Academy.
Project partner: Damansara Performing Arts Center and ASWARA.

This project is supported by grants from the University of Winchester, MEI-BE WHATever, kakiSeni and JKKN (Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negara).

Yumi Umiumare

Yumi Umiumare

Australian-based Japanese choreographer/performer Yumi Umiumare undertook a short residency at Rimbun Dahan in 2010, working with and mentoring performer Natalie Kim Kyungmi, towards a solo work for the Melaka Art+Performance Festival. Yumi also conducted a workshop on 21 November 2010 at The Annexe Central Market. 

Yumi is at the forefront of Butoh fusion in Australia, with work across genres, including ‘Butoh Cabaret’. She works internationally and performed first in  Australia in the early 90’s with Tokyo Butoh company DaiRakudakan. She has had  a commitment to teaching and mentoring for over a decade, initiating with Tony Yap the Beyond Butoh series of annual showings in Melbourne.

Go to the artist’s website:

Arco Renz & Amrita Performing Arts

Arco Renz & Amrita Performing Arts

Photo by Anders Jiras.

In 2010, Brussels-based choreographer Arco Renz and dancers from Amrita Performing Arts, Cambodia, spent an intensive residency at Rimbun Dahan developing the new work Crack, commissioned by the Singapore Arts Festival 2011.

The development concluded with a work-in-progress showing, “Cracking in Progress” at The Actors Studio Theatre @ Lot 10 Rooftop, on 27 March 2010. During the showing, Arco will presented and explaiedn the movement material created so far and the dance tasks he has set for the Cambodian dancers. Arco and the Amrita dancers also discussed and took questions on their work.

Crack is a performance about the developing individuality of a new generation of Cambodians after their civil war – their conflicts, hopes, dreams, and desires. Physically exploring the themes of emergence from isolation towards integration in the complexities of the contemporary world, this performance promises to ascribe and describe through contemporary dance, music and performance the zeitgeist of a new country.

About Arco Renz

A protegee of famed Belgian minimalist dance artist Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Arco Renz’s productions reveal an intense physicality and explore the emotional force of abstraction. In his creations he consistently broadens the principles of Abstract Dramaturgy to light, sound and multimedia interfaces. Kobalt Works is the production organization founded by Arco Renz. Since the establishment of Kobalt Works in 2000, Arco Renz has developed a successful artistic track, creating and touring several performances as well as developing transcultural and multidisciplinary research and exchange programs. He presented ‘heroine’, a solo work by Taiwanese dancer Wen-Chi Su, at the Singapore Arts Festival 2010.

About Amrita Performing Arts

Amrita Performing Arts is an international NGO based in Phnom Penh whose mission is to preserve the spectrum of Cambodia’s traditional performing arts, while nurturing contemporary artistic expression. In 2011 they presented ‘Khmeropedies I & II’ at the Esplanade, Singapore, created by former Baryshnikov dancer Emmanuèle Phuon.

Paloma Calle & Joavien Ng

Paloma Calle & Joavien Ng


Alice comes from Texas, but lives in Portugal. Sometimes her English is perfect, and sometimes it isn’t. She won a million dollars in a lottery and every day she paints her fingernails red. She might be someone you know, or perhaps you have never heard of her. So does she really exist?

Singaporean choreographer Joavien Ng and Spanish choreographer Paloma Calle are currently undertaking a one-month residency at Rimbun Dahan supported by the Asia-Europe Foundation. During their residency, Joavien and Paloma are collaborating to create a new performance work entitled ‘The Diary of Alice’, intertwining the concepts of fiction and identity.

A 3-hour performance laboratory exploring creative processes associated with the body, objects, space, image and sound will take place on Sunday 14 March, from 12pm to 3pm, at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market Annexe. Artists in all genres are invited to participate, while Paloma and Joavien facilitate a development process involving their new work, ‘The Diary of Alice’.

Each participant should bring a digital camera (a mobile phone with camera is suitable), and an object with special meaning to the participant, either positive or negative. Participants are requested to wear loose comfortable clothes, as some movement will be involved.

lecture presentation of the artists’ previous works will take place at The Annexe Central Market on Monday 15 March, from 8pm to 10pm, followed by a discussion and Q&A session.

About the Artists

Photo of Joavien Ng by Matthew G. Johnson.

Photo of Joavien Ng by Matthew G. Johnson.

Joavien Ng began her choreographing and performing career in 1997, after graduating from La Salle School of Performing Arts in Singapore. Her works have since been presented by various Singapore and international arts organisations such as Esplanade Theatre (Singapore), Singapore Arts Festival, Kampnagel (Hamburg), Contemporary Dance of Fort Worth (USA), Little Asia Dance Exchange Network (Asia), Alkantara (Portugal), and Singapore Art Museum.

Joavien’s most recent work, Body Swap, in which she collaborated with Germany-based American choreographer Dani Brown, was presented at Kampnagel and Esplanade Theatre in 2009. Other works include LAB at the Esplanade Theatre in 2008 and Body Inquireat Singapore Arts Festival 2008.


Paloma_CallePaloma Calle was born in Madrid in 1975. After training and working for more than 10 years as a performer in experimental dance and theatre companies in Spain, Germany and Italy, she began to develop her own projects in performance art, staged performances and video in 2004. Her work is usually based on autobiographical material that she explores and reconstructs from an ironic and artifactual perspective. There is a constant questioning and experimenting with the conventional use of space, resulting in works in different formats conceived for diverse spaces ranging from a theatre to a walk with the audience through the periphery of a city, or a performance in a private house. Paloma also regularly questions the role of the audience in her work, encouraging the audience to enter a state of alertness and activity.

Paloma’s work, presented in a number of centres and festivals in Europe and in Spain, include des-trozos, lovely epi-ladies, parlez moi d’amour, ZOO, simple present, SECRET, territorio: sad y k, DE MANO, 1, 2, 3, 4 partes, EVEREST/príncipes, 100 cosas que hacer la noche en blanco mejor que ver la noche en blanco, concierto y subasta, and hello myself.


This residency is supported by the Asia-Europe Foundation as a follow-up to ASEF’s Point to Pointe dance forum in Portugal last year.

Cathy Brooks

Recent work draws on the ideas of both physical and metaphorical ‘interiors’. I merge the flatness of wallpaper patterns with a view of a built interior, where a door or window may offer a view into an illusory space and operate as a metaphor for perception, memory and the body. This has led to new work that is influenced by organic imperfection; warped thinking processes and the idea that pattern is just one layer in a multi-dimensional world. There is also a sense of longing, of perhaps trying to find that ‘unthought-of’ thought.

My current research is in the area of pattern, script, pseudo-script and graphic symbols in traditional and contemporary Malaysian culture. I am developing ways to incorporate printmaking into my painting and stitching work. I am also currently working on a collaborative project with Mike Ladd involving still photography, video, sound and text, drawing on the pantun form.

About the Artist

Adelaide-based visual artist Cathy Brooks graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from the S.A. School of Art in Photography and Sculpture, followed by a Master of Visual Art and Design in Painting at UniSA in 2007. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, and her solo exhibitions in Adelaide include IMAGINARIUM at the Prospect Gallery in 2008, Waves at Tin Cat Gallery in 2005 and High Road at Greenhill Gallery in 2002. Her work appears in collections at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mortlock Library in South Australia, Trades Hall in South Australia, Prospect Council, and Chroma Colour Photographics. Cathy has come to Malaysia as the recipient of a Professional Development Travel Grant from Arts SA. Her work combines media and techniques from photography, fabric design and printing, and drawing and painting.

Eve Lambert

One of Eve Lambert's costume designs, created from a parachute.

One of Eve Lambert’s costume designs, created from a parachute.

Thanks to the support of Scottish Arts Council, costume designer Eve Lambert spent three weeks at Rimbun Dahan in October 2008, working with resident choreographer Lina Limosani, designing and creating costumes for Lina’s contemporary dance work A Delicate Situation .

Eve Lambert first trained in fashion design at College Marie-Victorin, Montreal. During the course of her studies, Eve was selected for the final of a fashion contest in Paris, to participate in a design seminar in Copenhagen and was granted an award for best student of the Fashion Design Program in both her 2nd and 3rd years. Following this, she was awarded a scholarship from the Fashion Foundation of Montreal to study Performance Costume at the Edinburgh College of Art. Whilst studying, Eve undertook various work experience opportunities in order to gain experience in costume design and construction for theatre, film, television, dance and puppetry, in both Montreal and Edinburgh.

In 2007, Eve was invited to present her degree work at the West Kilbride Gallery, Scotland. Since then, her professional practice has included designing costume for X-Factor Dance Company (Edinburgh) on various productions such as ‘Ragnarok’ (2007), ‘Person or Persons Unknown’ (short film, 2007), ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’ (site specific, 2008) and ‘Unspoken’ (2008). Other experiences include collaborating with puppet theatre company The Pupper Lab (Edinburgh), on ‘EH3’ (2006), ‘The Big Shop-Inverness’ (2007) and ‘The Gift’ (2008). Her most recent work includes designing costumes for ‘The Red Room’ by David Hughes Dance and Al Seed (Traverse Theatre, 2008). See attached for samples of Eve’s work.

Donna Miranda

Resident Choreographer March-June 2007

Artist-in-residence at Rimbun Dahan from March to June 2007, Donna created new performance piece bringing together local Malaysian dancers, video and sound artists to explore the idea of waiting, passing time, momentum and interruption in Extended Periods of Waiting, which was performed on June 8 2007 at The Annexe Central Market. The work featured live sound by SiCKL, video projection by Saiful Razman and Au Sow Yee, lighting by Roman Cruz and performance by Donna Miranda, Bilqis Hijjas, Yuka Tanaka, Louise Yow Sing-Hwa, Low Shee Hoe, Shaifuddin Mamat and Chan Seau Huvi.


The trio section from Extended Periods of Waiting was performed again as part of the Tari! 07 festival at ASWARA in July 2007.

During her stay, Donna also created I Will Think About It, a contribution to the 2007 Art for Nature exhibition in collaboration with visual artist Saiful Razman, and featuring Poodien. She also conducted a workshop in contemporary dance, creative process and free movement improvisation at the Annexe Central Market in June 2007.

Donna and Poodien creating I Will Think About It.

Donna and Poodien creating I Will Think About It.

Donna received dance training as national government scholar of the Philippine High School for the Arts, pursuing professional practice and further training with Ballet Philippines, Philippine Ballet Theater, Myra Beltran’s Dance Forum and specialized training in contemporary dance at the 2005 DanceWEB Europe Scholarship Programme, in Vienna, Austria. She has since been actively involved in multimedia projects that explore new possibilities through works that combine contemporary dance, new media, fashion, physical theater, spoken word and sound. In 2000, she co-founded Green Papaya Art Projects, building a research platform for contemporary dance in Manila through its Anatomy Projects (AP+). Her solo ‘Beneath Polka-dotted Skies’ recently received 2007 Jury Prize Award in the Yokohama Solo X Duo Competition in Japan.

EU & ME Dance Collective

EU & ME Dance Collective


The four-person dance collective EU & ME (European Union & a little MISTAKE and an EXCUSE) consisting of

Joey CHUA Poh Yi (Singapore, Hong Kong)
Marie CHABERT (France, UK)
Csilla NAGY (Hungary)
Rhys TURNER (Australia)

performed their work FIND.MOVE.PLAY, an interactive physical theatre performance with digital art, for the opening night of the Art for Nature Exhibition at Rimbun Dahan on Saturday 24 July 2010. [Photos below by Anthony Pelchen.]

The Collective began in 2008 in New York, in the frame of the Dance Collective programme organised by OMI international Arts Centre. Then the artists collaborated in the Czech Republic as resident artists of CESTA Festival. After four successful presentations in Hong Kong and Singapore this performance at Rimbun Dahan is the closing show of a one-month tour.

EU & ME arrived at Rimbun Dahan on Saturday 17 July, and within the space of a week created a 45-minute work tailored to the specific spaces of Rimbun Dahan as well as inspired by the artists’ own experiences of being on a residency in Southeast Asia and discovering life in Malaysia.

FIND.MOVE.PLAY was performed at 10pm on 24 July as the final event on the opening night of Art for Nature. Information about the performance was provided through an announcement during the opening ceremonies, and by flyers distributed on the dinner tables.

The performers used a number of different sites around the property, including the central space of the underground gallery, the reflective lotus pond, outdoor sculptures and herb garden. The performers invited the audience of 100-200 people to follow them from site to site, linking the vignettes with a narrative about Orpheus and searching for love.

The performance incorporated digital art, with a dance film taking a comic look at residencies at Rimbun Dahan, and an interactive soundscape in which selected audience members wearing headphones heard the accompanying music change as they moved around the space. The audience was also invited to participate in the work, manipulating the dancers, helping them with specific tasks, answering questions and holding flashlights.

FIND.MOVE.PLAY alternated impressionistic romantic moments – Joey Chua wearing a traditional Chinese cheongsam and singing a Chinese love song while paddling herself about among waterlilies, or Marie Chabert flinging herself about among towered sculptures of lit glass – with moments of slapstick comedy, as when Marie slapped Rhys Turner on the face in retaliation for his bad pickup lines, and moments of unforgettable eeriness, such as Csilla Nagy’s mysterious inhuman emergence from the darkened pool followed by her literally stalking a quivering audience member. The tone of the work transitioned easily, tracing the natural atmospheres of the various different performance sites.

In addition to being a fun, funny and thought-provoking work in its own right, FIND.MOVE.PLAY also functioned perfectly as a teaser for Dancing in Place, a weekend of site-specific contemporary dance performances that will take place at Rimbun Dahan during the final week of the Art for Nature exhibition. By using multiple venues in very different ways, the audience was able to appreciate the potential for site-specific work at Rimbun Dahan. For many members of the audience more used to visual art, it served as an accessible introduction to contemporary dance and audience participation.

This performance was supported by nka and National Arts Council (Singapore).


Gabrielle Bates

Gabrielle Bates

Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency 2007

BatesG1The 2007 Australian artist in residence at Rimbun Dahan is Gabrielle Bates (6. 1967). An honors graduate from the University of Sydney, New South Wales, she has exhibited professionally since 1993 and is the recipient of a number of awards, grants and residency placements. Gabrielle’s works have been acquired for corporate, institutional and private collections in Australia, UK, USA and Malaysia.

‘Mouth of flowers’ is Gabrielle’s new body of experimental paintings, objects and video work produced this year while in residence at Rimbun Dahan, Kuala Lumpur. Gabrielle’s exploration of patterns and figuration has produced a series of canvas-based works that combine water colour, Rimbun Dahan pond water, hand-embroidered nylon thread, Chinese ink and synthetic polymer paint. The works combine Southeast Asian motifs, signage and local media with figuration to explore the political and poetic subtleties of life for artists in Malaysia and southeast Asia.

Artists such as Saiful Razman, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Husin Hourmain, Donna Miranda, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Shaffudin Mamat, Low Shee Hoe, Lau Mun Leng and Bilqis Hijjas have all posed for Bates during her residency. In turn, she has transformed them into players within a fictional narrative that circles the conflicts, anxieties, insights and advantages of (self) censorship.

Her objects, collected from the ordinary Kelompang jari (Sterculia foetida) pods, have been reconfigured with nylon thread and decorative elements such as sequins and velvet appliqué, morphing the pods into a collection of anthropomorphous objects.

Gabrielle presented ‘Mouth of flowers’ at the 13th Rimbun Dahan Residency Exhibition, alongside the work of Malaysian resident artist Ahmad Fuad Osman, 13 to 27 January 2008, at the Rimbun Dahan gallery.

The elasticity of a golden thread

by Gina Fairley

Our lives are filled with pattern: The patterned regimentation of our actions; our personal ‘style’; the family that frames us; our cultural fabric; conservatisms and beliefs. We wear an invisible code that defines who we are, our DNA. Collectively, this is ourpattern.

Gabrielle Bates has long used quasi-ethnographic motifs as a device to transfer information about the people she paints. In her earlier portraits the sitter reverberated across the canvas, floating on a flat colour field. Like a print slightly out of register, their ghost-like repetition, or flaw, reaffirmed their humanity. Bold black outlines held their pattern allowing us to decode who they might be.

While these early portraits offer a clear trajectory to these new works, the “Mouth of Flowers” series comes from a very different position: psychologically, emotionally and culturally. Their patterning goes beyond a descriptor to physically consume the form. The body and pattern have fused as one.

Malaysia’s hybridity makes an indelible impression on every artist visiting Rimbun Dahan. For Bates that engagement was filled with multiplicity: it offered an organic tangibility to the work spawned from its bounty of pods, natural patterns and pond water; it provided the solitude to rediscover embroidery, sewing a personal and emotional narrative; and it offered the gift of insight, journeying beyond perceptions.

Finding Malaysia’s pattern is complex. At an elementary level it lies in its graphic traditions of batik, henna decoration and Islamic geometry. At a cerebral level it is the patterning of socio-political / religious striations of a nation at a time when it is asking ‘what is its contemporary identity?’ Bates’ work traces a thread across these ideas, oscillating between reverie and bounce. Remove the exotic ‘pattern’ and it is a narrative caught in a web of time, territory and transition.

Bates found this narrative in a coterie of artists, dancers and musicians who explore the peripheral through their creativity. The narratives are dense but less self-effacing; the ‘outlines’ have become diffused. She replaces ethnographic patterning with a floral fragility, caught between romantic apparition and an earthy reality. Often clothed in little more than an organic epidermis, her players are exposed. But these characters are not vulnerable. If we look at the painting “Armour”, banana flowers (bunga pisang) rise up like a noxious weed, beautiful but threatening, clutching at a woman’s neck rendering her speechless. But she does not turn away; her gaze does not flare in distress – it is a knowing censure.

In “Stir” she sleeps enveloped by the same flowers. Is it the peace of submission, death or sleep? Is she weightless or weighted by her floral shroud? Paired with a mirror-image caught between cartoon and apparition, it sits against a brave white ground acting as a stark alter-ego to the velvety, painterly background of the sleeping figure. It is a kind of intermezzo between figuration and the ephemeral.

“KL-ing me softly” is equally charged from the outset, challenging protocols and permissions. But there is an inherent softness that sits counter to any overt act or statement. It mixes memory and ambivalence with a restless exoticism. These works are about a visual psychology. Just as a Rorschach drawing triggers association but has no one reading, Bates has moved beyond the clarity of descriptors to an elasticity of meaning. She pushes us beyond the desire to translate and give over to poetic nuance.

The materials of these new works take on a symbolism we have not seen before. Her stitched portraits have a latent violence or emotional trigger. The act of piercing the surface of a painting has that same duality as a tattoo; it is branding and an aesthetic expression. “First cut” captures this tension, the thread’s assertive lines slashing the canvas. The figure turns from himself but is denied a freedom, anchored by his own voice. Rendered speechless, we ask who has the power of censure over this voice? Caught in the strain between a sewn and brushed mark, it is a courageous embrace of new materials.

Bates similarly plays off the organic purity of seed pods against lurid plastic flowers and synthetic thread. The pods disgorge their floral centres, over-ripe with fleshy fertility. These are incredibly sensual objects that Bates lashes into control. The synthetic materiality of the flowers beg the question, are we fooled by beauty? It is another veil seemingly ‘natural’ yet contrived, controlled and plastic?

Many of these works teeter on the edge where things are raw and flirt with the unknown. To quote writer John Barrett-Lennard, “Accent can be thought of as a kind of excess, a disturbance in the smoothness of sound and communication.” (1.) An accent, like a pattern, has a personal intonation. It is about reading between the lines; it is the place of hyphens. Sometimes it is barely audible; sometimes it has the gentleness of a lover and at others the affirmation of belief. “Mouth of Flowers” is a place to hear things.
Gina Fairley

1. John Barrett-Lennard “Here and Now” catalogue essay for Simryn Gill, PICA exhibition, Perth 2001.


Helen Bodycomb

Helen Bodycomb

Helen Bodycomb of Castlemaine, Australia, had a residency at Rimbun Dahan in 2006. She returned to Malaysia in 2009 with three other mosaic artists to work on the collaborative artwork ‘The Shyness of Trees’ at Hotel Penaga.


Helen Bodycomb moved to the Castlemaine area in late 2007 from Melbourne, where she had lived on and off for almost 30 years. Born in Adelaide and raised as a young child in Elizabeth (SA), she went to Uni High and later – to art school – in Melbourne. She completed a BA in Fine Art (majoring in Painting) at Victoria College, Prahran and then a Post-Graduate Diploma at Monash Uni. See