Documentation – The Vault: Distilling the Dance

Distilling the Dance programme

Click on the image to download the programme booklet.

The Vault: Distilling the Dance was presented from 2-6 July 2016.

Distilling the Dance was a multi-format presentation seeking to present dance beyond the frame of performance. Singapore-based independent interdisciplinary artist Kiran Kumar created four configurations of movement, text and image: an essay-performance, an audio-installation, an exhibition and a workshop. He has also written some reflections on his time working on and presenting Distilling the Dance.

Distilling the Dance was conceived in response to the audio-guided tour Desire Paths created by Singapore theatre company spell#7, as well as Kiran’s movement research under the Dance Nucleus ELEMENT residency programme.

Further Developments: Kiran will be continuing his research in a two-year research fellowship at the Graduate School, University of the Arts Berlin. His fellowship project, titled “Archipelago Archives”, will further develop the content and methodologies he had experimented with in The Vault programme and ELEMENT residency.


 Essay Performance: Dear Dead Dancer

This process of actively seeking subtlety has thrown open some fundamental, critical questions on pedagogy, aesthetics and philosophy in dance. This essay-performance takes the form of a reading of an open letter addressed to Kelucharan Mahapatra, the late Odissi guru and a pioneer of the dance’s reconstruction, with the intention of relating the aesthetic and the critical dimensions of my journey.Kiran Kumar

Kiran performed Dear Dead Dancer on 2 July at the Centre 42 Black Box and 4 July at the Dance Nucleus Studio. The Centre 42 performance was video-recorded.

The video recording below is accompanied by documentation of the projection slides, text, and images of the performance.




Dear Dead Dancer – Documentation




Audio Installation: There is no dance

Yet, the notion of ‘presenting subtle dancing’ inheres a delicate contradiction. This audio installation addresses such a contradiction. It is situated in a theatre black box and it engages a structural set-up for a performance. But there is no dance. There are a few audio recordings, placed on fewer seats; each different from the other, yet all pointing to a common absence.Kiran Kumar

The audio installation There is no dance was presented in the Centre 42 Black Box from 2-6 July. Members of the public were free to listen to any of the MP3 devices laid out in the space. You may listen to the MP3 tracks in the player below.


Exhibition: Expanded Writing

Through this journey I have attempted to unpack the aesthetics of subtle dancing through a practice of ‘expanded writing’. Reading is also fundamental to a writing practice. So this exhibition serves as a library of reading and writing materials that are structured into five strands. These strands may seem to rest as static references on the book shelf, but transform through continuous, dynamic intersections on the reading table. Each visitor may have a unique access point in to materials in this library.Kiran Kumar

The exhibition Expanded Writing was held in the Centre 42 Library from 2-6 July.



Program Framework

  1. I appreciated the flexibility of the program to adapt to my concurrent research residency, although The Vault itself is not conceived as a residency.
  2. Despite admittedly being a little conceptually dense, I also appreciated the effort made through repeated dialogue to understand and articulate the terms of my response to the Spell #7 text.
  3. I have since also been in dialogue with the other two Vault artists, Lee Mun Wai and Shantini Manokara on their ideas and processes for this program. For me this has allowed a comparative understanding of each of our angles of ‘response to text’.

[Aside] In light of these dialogues (2 & 3 above), I share my present reflection/analysis on the notion of ‘text’.
This has helped me better understand my own instinctive way of response within my artistic practice,
as well as draw a relation to other ways of thinking. This has also been instrumental in shaping my
future project methodology.

On Text/s

The metaphor is that of a book.
The core is its ‘text’, the primary text.
The book also carries secondary text, that is equally manifest as the primary, yet peripheral to the
core. This is the ‘para-text’: the blurb, synopsis, list of contents, preface, foreword, and other textual
material supplied by editors, printers, publishers of the ecosystem.
Tertiary text tends towards being more subtle in its manifestation than primary and secondary texts.
These are ‘con-text’ and ‘sub-text’ that are more implied than stated; that are manifest between a
collective readership and the primary and secondary texts.
There is considerable reason to posit the existence of further quaternary text, that is increasingly
more subtle than tertiary text due to subjective variances between individual readers. This may well
be her/his personal ‘pre-text’.
The reader’s access to the book is rendered complex through an engagement with any or all of these
textual layers in isolation or simultaneity.
The reader’s response to the book may equally range in subtlety of manifestation, from pensive
pause to proud protest.


  1. I appreciated the open-ness to varied presentation formats, as well as to utilise and integrate multiple spaces of the centre towards the presentation.
  2. The willingness to co-operate with Dance Nucleus on the presentation was also great.



Vault Event Logo

The Vault: Distilling the Dance is the first of three presentations focusing on local dance-makers’ responses to Singapore play-text. This is a part-research-part-presentation endeavour to investigate movement in space and the body through inspired by play-texts. In Distilling the Dance, dance artist Kiran Kumar works with spell #7’s audio archives. Find out more here.