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Publication Date : 24-08-2013
It is not often that rehearsals for a dance production start with a trip to the supermarket. But then again, Optical Appetite is not your average show
The production, by contemporary dance company Raw Moves, premieres next Wednesday at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre. It is part of the university's ExxonMobil Campus Concerts series.
As its title suggests, the star of the show is undoubtedly food. Before rehearsals, choreographer Richard Causer and artistic director of the company Ricky Sim head to the supermarket or the wet market to pick up groceries.
Causer, 29, says: "We use about 12 apples for each rehearsal. Some other fruits we reuse, like the pineapples and the oranges. We also have bok choy (green leafy vegetable) but we don't reuse that."
Causer met Sim 10 years ago while they were both studying at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. This is the first time that Causer, who has been in Singapore since last month, is working with the company.
A freelance dancer-choreographer who is based in London, he says the culinary choreography was inspired by a song he heard: "In it, a woman is talking about somebody putting a spell on her, and it makes her feel amazing and does something to her that she can't describe.
"So I took it that the thing she's talking about is food, rather than a person."
In the one-night-only show, 12 performers share the stage with what Sim, 43, calls a "fruit buffet". Each scene features one type of fruit or movement inspired by a fruit.
In a segment featuring apples, a trio of dancers drip raw sensuality as they wrap themselves in white sheets, teeth sinking into the crisp flesh of the crimson fruit.
Meanwhile, spellbound by their allure, another dancer wrenches his body into a box that is punctured with holes, his face contorted into an expression that is both ecstasy and agony.
The costumes in the performances are similarly sexy. "I like to reveal skin as much as possible. A dancer's body is really beautiful, they have muscles and definition, and we should show it off as much as possible," says Causer, while Sim is quick to add: "But they're covered up in the appropriate places."
While pulling off the moves on stage may look effortless, Causer says that working with fruit is tricky: "You never know what's going to happen, and it requires a lot of rehearsals because they have to quickly put the apple in their mouth and take a wide bite.
"Sometimes, if they relax, it falls out. Sometimes, someone kicks it out of their mouth."
Meanwhile, the self-confessed foodie has satiated his own appetite for Singapore cuisine: "Everything is delicious, except for durian. I like exploring and I'm very adventurous when it comes to food. I'll always try everything once."