Selasa, 5 November 2013

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Learning from the best


Local designers learning from the best thanks to Designers Weekend.

VISUAL artist Takora Kimiyoshi Futori made a huge impression on local art students during a workshop at the Dasein Academy of Art, Kuala Lumpur last week.

The renowned artist from Tokyo, Japan is known for his colourful, vibrant pop art work in the fashion and interior design industries. He has worked with big names like Commes des Garcon, Adidas and Google.

Called "Pattern In Space", the workshop was organised by Designers Weekend, a non-profit community and network that supports local artists and designers.

During the workshop, Takora talked participants through some of his work, all the while explaining the thought processes behind each design.

"I think it's very important to be able to feel what you're creating, and to feel for other people, so they will be able to understand the art you create," said Takora, 41. "It's about being sensitive, putting yourself in the shoes of others and seeking to match your art together with feelings."

Takora's interest with patterns has led him to fashion illustration and design concepts for fashion items.

Takora's interest with patterns has led him to doing fashion illustrations and design concepts for fashion items.

Takora also talked about his growth as an artist, and how he learned to implement his designs in fashion and furniture one project at a time, slowly making himself a more skilful creator.

Takora eventually made a name for himself by constantly submitting his work at exhibitions, which opened doors for new projects and collaborations.

"I didn't know anything when I first started. I had to learn a lot along the way. It was only through time and doing more projects with different people that I learnt the professional work of an artist," he said.

A group of graphic design students had travelled from Ipoh, Perak to hear Takora speak.

Lecturer Zeniph Lim of the Perak Institute of Arts said workshops like these give young designers exposure to different perspectives.

"Students need to know and learn different things, not just what they read from textbooks. The classroom can be anywhere," said Lim, who brings his students for trips at least once a month.

His student Tan Wei Xiang, 20, said the workshop taught him how to solve problems and to put "feeling" into his artwork. "What I like about Takora is that his work is very abstract. And I've learned how to put my feelings into design concepts."

Takora pointed out that with the Internet today, especially social media, young artists can easily display their work online to get exposure - but the practice has its downsides.

"It is so easy to put your work on the Internet and tell people about it, but I actually hate that," he said. "Sometimes people think it's enough putting your stuff online, but there's so much stuff online already.

"It's always better to exhibit your work, where people can go and see it for themselves and meet the person behind the work, face to face. That's how I think I got my opportunities and grew."

Brick by brick


Five Arts Centre's Walls is an intriguing study of alienation and identity in modern Malaysia.

A devised play explores alienation, identity and restriction with a tale of a woman cut off from the world by an invisible wall.

The story of Walls first began one year ago, on a very cold and lonely February winter in Berlin, Germany.

Director Hari Azizan had just watched The Wall, a film based on a German modern classic book by Marlen Haushofer. The show's heroine, played by Martina Gedeck, reminded her of acclaimed Malaysian actress Mislina Mustaffa, who she had always wanted to work with.

When she returned to her home country, the images from the film stuck with her.

"Back in Malaysia, being besieged by the political/election propaganda and apocalypse texts and images got me thinking about how great it would be if we could have a wall to cut off the nonsense or the 'ugly' parts of life, and start afresh by going back to basics," said Hari in an interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

In Walls, Mislina Mustaffa plays The Woman, who she described as trapped in her own walls and later trapped in the invisible wall in Janda Baik, but who eventually makes peace with the invisible wall that cuts her off from all the noise outside.

"Seriously, why were we getting worked up about dogs, body tattoos, sexy clothes, K-pop stars, etc, when there were more important things to worry about like the global economy, war, global warming and even the 2012 Mayan apocalypse? Why were we wasting energy getting so offended and angry all the time? The world was going to end and we were all going to die."

Inspired, Hari joined forces with fellow director Wong Tay Sy. The duo devised Walls, an intriguing study of alienation and identity in modern Malaysia, where one's personal space is being constricted every day by moral guardians and political forces.

The show tells of a woman who wakes up in Janda Baik to find an invisible wall isolating her from the world.

With only a few animals for company, she tries to create a new landscape from what's left of the old world.

Through the interplay of text, sound, body and space, Walls aims to explore how man-made barriers divide us, and what they stand for when there is nothing left of humanity. The thought-provoking play will also take a hard look at (wo)man's relationship with the environment.

Speaking on the play's themes of restriction, both directors expressed they were firmly against the idea of censorship.

"It is affecting not only our imagination and creativity but also our ability to think critically about even the ordinary things in our daily life," added Hari.

"I am against anything that condenses imagination and innovation," said Wong.

"The scariest part of censorship in Malaysia is that we self-censor before we are even being censored."

Back to the play, Hari added they would be using the elements of text, image, body, sound, light and set to create a world where the audience can experience the different layers of walls and boundaries.

"We would like the audiences to experience an atmospheric sensation through the visuals, audio, acting and stage direction," added Wong. Hari said the most challenging part of the staging had been its tone.

"(We tried) not to lose ourselves in the bleakness and infuse some light and hope. But really, with tragedy and discomfort, right?" she said.

"Another challenge is how to present the animals, of course – our producer Mark Teh wouldn't let us have real animals!"

The show features only two actors, Mislina Mustaffa and visual/performance artist chi too. Mislina plays The Woman, who she described as "trapped in her own walls and later trapped in the invisible wall in Janda Baik, but who eventually makes peace with the invisible wall that cuts her off from all the 'noise' outside."

Asked if it was difficult to get into character, the actress was enigmatic.

"As Mislina Mustaffa, a Malay woman aged 42, born into a very religious family, bred and buttered in a patriarchal country and who later embarked, and still is, on her so called subversive project Homeless By Choice, who among many choices, declines the function of man as the provider of security and who herself owns several dogs, do you think she will have any problems getting into character? Maybe. Maybe not," quipped Mislina.

Mislina said she hoped the audience would be inspired to ask "Questions" after the show.

"Where exactly is the wall? Who said the wall has to be flat and smooth? If it's spiky or spongy or crooked or even colourful and round, wouldn't it be a wall too if you're stuck in it?" she asked.

"Are we inside or outside the wall? Are we in the safe zone or the danger zone? Why do we bother so much about the wall? Do walls even exist? Is it real? What exactly are the walls in our personal lives? Are we the victims or are we ourselves the wall, perhaps for others?"

Chi too, on the other hand, said getting into character was slightly challenging for him.

"I am both the husband and the dog of the protagonist. The problem is that I am a cat person. The husband behaves a bit like a cat, so that is easy to get into. The dog on the other hand ... well, is a dog, which is a real challenge for a non-actor like myself as there are so many little details that need to be taken care of," he said.

What then, were the biggest challenges of the performance?

"The original text of this play The Wall, which provides an inspiration for our performance, is a highly descriptive and visual novel. The story is about a woman stuck by herself, and that means that she has no one to talk to, hence there is very little dialogue, a medium commonly used in theatre to tell stories. The challenge for me has always been how to adapt such a highly-visual story onto a stage where we are stripped of the luxuries of the vehicles film and literature," he added.

"That, and acting as a dog," he quipped.

>Walls is playing at Black Box in Publika, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 9, 12–16 at 8.30pm and Nov 10 and 17 at 3pm. Tickets: RM55/RM25 (students and senior citizens).

Available at: Email: Hotline: 016-689 2485.

Rhythm of the game in 'SuperMokh'


Blending football and dance for SuperMokh The Musical was a challenging task for the show's dance choreographer.

FOOTBALL is not called the beautiful game for nothing. Sometimes, when you watch a brilliant player in action – the way he moves, the way he dribbles and controls the ball, leaping majestically into the air to head or kick a ball – it can be like watching the grace and artistry of a dancer going through a routine.

"Football is an art, just like dancing," declared Adzwadi Sani, choreographer of SuperMokh The Musical, the upcoming stage production based on the life of the late Mokhtar Dahari, who is regarded as the greatest Malaysian footballer of all time.

Produced by Tall Order Productions and Jugra Publication, the musical will be staged at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur from Wednesday to 18, and stars rock singer and actor Awie as the legendary footballer, as well as Maya Karin, Rashidi Ishak, Douglas Lim, Dina Nadzir, Phoon Chi Ho, Oliver Johanan and Clarence Kuna. The show is co-directed by Hans Issac and Harith Iskander, with Michael Veerapan as musical director.

Adzwadi, who used to play football competitively in his teens, relished the challenge of bringing to life a football match on the stage. "I don't think it's ever been done before! I used to play football when I was younger as well, so I knew how a football match should be like, but it was challenging to translate that onto the stage," he said.

¿Football is an art, just like dancing,¿ declared Adzwadi Sani, dance choreographer of SuperMokh The Musical, the upcoming stage production based on the life of the late Mokhtar Dahari, who is regarded as the greatest Malaysian footballer of all time. The musical will take stage at Istana Budaya from Nov 6-18. 

'Football is an art, just like dancing,' declared Adzwadi.

Although there are scenes that don't involve football, the hardest scenes to choreograph were the two football-related set-pieces – one in act two in which Malaysia takes on South Korea, and the second one involving Selangor and Johor – each with its own unique attributes and takes on the legendary footballer's skills and prowess.

According to him, it also wasn't a matter of just giving the cast a ball and asking them to dance with it. Adzwadi had to choreograph the football match in a way that would showcase the skills of the footballers while making it look and feel like a football match.

The first match, for example, involves a combination of dancers and freestyle trick footballers, and was probably the biggest challenge of this show.

"It was hard because it involved actors who were not dancers. The idea is to recreate a football match on stage, but with dance beats and rhythms. Hans (Isaac) was the one who suggested we use trick footballers, which was a good idea, but that also gave me another problem, because they didn't know how to dance!" Adzwadi said with a laugh.

"Many of the footballers can freestyle very well, but without music. The hardest part was getting them to follow the music and the beat. The set piece has to follow a certain rhythm, but that can be quite hard because most of the footballers follow their own moods and heart when juggling the ball. Sometimes, their energy levels might be higher and they might kick the ball a little harder than they are supposed to!"

There are 10 trick footballers in the production, and fortunately, they were very patient and willing to learn. Adzwadi reckons he has managed to train them into pretty decent dancers for now, though he still had to keep the moves simple and uncomplicated at times.

"I believe everyone can dance, but following the choreography is a different matter altogether," he said. "We didn't give them very complicated movements, but the impact they have on the football match was good enough."

Of course, there's little point in having real trick footballers in the show without showcasing their skills, so Adzwadi has also given them the chance to show off their skills during the set-piece.

Having played football himself, and after extensive research on YouTube studying Mokhtar Dahari's moves, he reckons he's managed to find the perfect way to highlight the legend's skills and talent on stage.

"The trick footballers are there to show off their dribbling and juggling skills, which Mokhtar Dahari was very famous for," he said, adding that the other football-related set piece is a Tron-esque depiction of a Selangor versus Johor match using mostly dancers and LED lights.

"Mokhtar was famous for his dribbling skills and speed, so during that match, we use LED lights and doubles to show how his No.10 jersey would seem to be everywhere at once," he said.

Ultimately, there is still one element that Adzwani is a little worried about – the footballs. "We really can't predict how and where the balls will go sometimes! During our preview show, the ball got lost once, but thankfully it wasn't noticeable because of all the movement on stage ... but still, that shouldn't be happening!" he said.

"All we can do is to keep training hard so that everyone gets their timing and cues right, and hope that the trick footballers don't get too excited and kick the ball into the audience! In the end, we can only try our best and hope for the best – the ball is round after all!"

Tickets for SuperMokh The Musical are priced at RM46, RM96, RM106, RM126, RM166, RM206, RM236 and RM306 for the night shows. Tickets for the matinee (Nov 9, 10, 16 and 17) are priced at RM38, RM78, RM96, RM102, RM134, RM166, RM190 and RM246. Tickets are available from


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