Bernard Goh, the charismatic Artistic Director of Malaysian drum troupe HANDS Percussion, takes a quick breather to sit down with VisionKL and talk body, rhythm and movement
HANDS Percussion, a group that has staged some of Malaysia’s most memorable performances over the past two decades, has been conspicuously quiet since the beginning of the year. We knew that Bernard Goh, choreographer extraordinaire and the man at the helm of HANDS, was up to something so we got in touch to find out what was drumming up.
Rooted Movement “We want to explore our bodies in relation to rhythm… I want to create a new movement that represents Malaysia,” says Goh. Always pushing boundaries and breaking experimental ground, Goh is now looking inwards, directing his members to listen to their own bodies.
What makes us tick; what makes us nod our heads to a beat? Goh, it appears, is on a mission to find out and he’s bringing in some big guns to assist. West African Beat By the time this goes to print, HANDS would have undergone an intensive 10-day workshop with Olivier Tarpaga, an awardwinning US based dancer-choreographer, activist and performing arts consultant from West Africa.
He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the studio, and Goh has been eager to partner up with him for some time. “I want to explore new movement with Olivier, to have him help us harness each of our own strengths and use these to the best of our abilities,” stresses Goh. He doesn’t want synchronisation on stage. He wants organic progression, and Tarpaga is a master at drawing out this type of controlled but spontaneous action.
You’ll have to wait until next year to see the results of this unique collaboration, but trust us, the results promise to be nothing short of spectacular.
A niche combination of West African djembe play, bodyfocused choreography and classical percussive forms grounded on an innately Malaysian base – how could it not? As for the rest of the year, lots of training lies in store – marimba, string percussion, music arrangement, modern dance classes, tai chi and more for the drum boys.
After garnering three awards at the recent BOH Cameronian Arts Awards, recent performances in Switzerland and Shenzhen, upcoming festivals in the Netherlands and Belgium, and drumming workshops at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre, and Rakan Muda mentors for the Festival Belia Putrajaya 2015, HANDS Percussion are as busy as ever it seems.