FREE defined (or can it?): RAW Moves takes it on

What is free – Is it the freedom of choice, movement, space, expression, or something more that your mind can conceive? Is it that item you receive after winning a competition or redeeming a coupon you possess? Is free simply an adjective, a verb, or perhaps even a metaphor to you?


Image Credit: Ricky Sim

However you may see free play out in your life, the truth is, what’s free to you might not be what free is to another. The truth is, we crave for it more than we truly comprehend it.

In Ricky Sim‘s upcoming movement research, FREE, the Artistic Director of RAW Moves, a local contemporary dance company, explores what being free means.

FREE, Ricky Sim Artistic Director of RAW Moves

Image Credit: Ricky Sim

“My previous full length piece as a director was two years ago, and back then I overheard dancers speak of feeling confined. But what does it mean to be confined, or not? I’ve always been interested in human emotions,” Ricky contemplated on his decision to explore what free is.

In a collaborative effort together with 12 dancers, the notion of free is captured through movement in contemporary dance and theatric elements. Over a 2-month period, Ricky worked closely with the dancers, taking it to a personal level through interviews that fleshed out each dancer’s story and opinions towards the word free and physically enacting and translating words into body language.

FREE Rehearsal Image a, Photo by onefootprint photography

Image Credit: onefootprint photography

Interestingly, despite the many differing and even self-contradictory perceptions to the word free as shaped by one’s experiences, political affiliates, religious influences, culture and more, he discovered one recurring theme, “They all wanted to have a choice or say in their lives.”

When asked about his own definition of free, he laments, “I’m lost myself. I dare not think about it because being free is also scary. But in reflecting on my own free will, I’m also continuing to look and search yet am thankful that I have the opportunity to at least look. I don’t know if I’ll be okay if I find it or what I’ll do with it when I find it.”

“It will never be a finalised product. Everyone’s definition of free always changes and that’s why FREE is a movement exploration or research.”

FREE, Lian Sutton

Image Credit: Jon Cancio

FREE features up-and-coming 22-year-old thespian Lian Sutton! We’re stoked to have had a sneak preview into his dancing debut and acting finesse played out through an emotionally stirring recount of a young and eager 12-year-old Lian at soccer tryouts only to be dejected by rejection because he didn’t play by the pre-conceived “rules” of soccer game-play.

His freedom to experiment and redefine what works was constrained.

Yet, sports history has been made through many an athlete’s stroke of brilliant creativity – think Richard Douglas Fosbury’s “Fosbury Flop” revolutionising Olympic high jumps, and more recently, flying Dutchman Robin van Persie’s sensational diving header at the Brazilian World Cup.

On a brighter note, Lian’s ability to recount the scene repeatedly through rehearsals has in fact been pretty therapeutic for him, almost freeing him from that painful memory of lost dreams.

Sports aside, it’s intriguing to watch a blend of dance and theatre in our local arts scene. Typically, it’s one or the other, rarely both. Perhaps in part to Ricky’s stint in Europe where this combination is more commonplace, he believes that doing so here grants dancers and actors more repertoire in performing – certainly apt considering the exploration of free.

FREE Publicity Image a, Photo by Ricky Sim

Image Credit: Ricky Sim

In as much as the way we define free can vary vastly, FREE allows us to consider other individual’s notions and perspectives (or at least the twelve dancers in the RAW Moves performance).

Maybe, it’s also in initiating open communication about what free means that healing, mutual understanding and dialogue can begin.

Catch FREE by RAW Moves (a movement research by Ricky Sim), showing this week!
Details: Thu-Sat 3-5 July, 8pm, $25 (conc.) / $30 (standard)
Get your tickets on Peatix

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Claire Ding

Claire Ding is the Community Manager at ticketing platform Peatix in Singapore. She runs a community event for organisers, Backstage Pass , where organisers connect with others and learn tips on event management. Quite the thrill-seeker, Claire’s gone skydiving, bungee jumping, and enjoys anything that puts her on edge (quite literally), it’s no wonder she’s in the business of events with never a dull moment!