Translating Theppanom: (Re)Creating the Contemporary from the Classical
“Theppanom refers to a systematic guide to body aesthetics that is rudimentary to classical Thai dance. It comprises of a set of bodily postures, positions and gestures which the classical Thai dance student must master before s/he graduates to performing the choreographies of the classical works. It emphasises certain pivot or fulcrum points all over the body that assist in movements or angles of movement. For instance, the wrist, the knee, the pelvic bone are all important pivot points that can be used to influence different qualities and directions of movements.
Pichet Klunchun uses these guiding principles to create a contemporary system of movement and choreography. By applying contemporary choreographic principles of weight shifts, energy transformation and varying speeds, Klunchun devises an entirely new way of moving that is very much rooted in Thai classical aesthetics. The traditional theppanom poses, positions and gestures constitute building blocks of classical performance that are often fixed and rigid in their choreography and composition.
On the other hand Klunchun’s revision of the theppanom imbues the contemporary dancer with flexibility and continuous creativity. The contemporary dancer can now manipulate movements, gestures and positions that vary in speed and tone based on the traditional theppanom but there is the advantage of improvisation and control by the dancer. This ‘contemporary theppanom’ signals a development and evolution of a classical body aesthetic system that is unreservedly Thai in identity and yet constantly fluid in its multitude of physical expression.
13 (Fri) - 27 (Fri) July 2018
Artist touring 15 July at 16:00
Ace House Collective