[Review] Ikan Girl – A celebrated virtuoso that combines with literary work and dance

11 Nov 2016
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Photo by Mark Benedict Cheong

The performance opens with an overture, Virtuoso, in which performers draw parallels between European and Asian music, as well as bring in classics from Malay music.

I have listened to both El Choclo and Joget Johor Sports Club all my life, but never has it crossed my mind that one is an inspired version of the other, until it is pointed out by the performers. I begin appreciating these two pieces more as I am serenaded, live, by the accordian solo. The rendition of Fatwa Pujangga and Di Mana ‘Kan Kucari Ganti are very moving to the audience as the recital is expressively delivered.

review ikan girl a celebrated virtuoso that combines with literary work and dance

As the performance progresses to its performative part, Ikan Girl, ie. the adaptation of Syair Bidasari, I felt that it is a unique choice of literary work to be adapted into a stage performance. It creates an awareness of something different from the norms of The Swordfishand Badang, ie. by using Syair Bidasari – a less-known classic to the masses. Interpretations from all dimensions are original – from the music compositions to choreography to the cross-cultural elements in choreography. It is just apt that the Bharatanatyam style is weaved into the character of the evil Queen, as this character requires strong facial expressions with amplified movements. The nature of the dance, which is expressive, makes the character’s wickedness-appeal effortless. Gracefulness of both the characters of the fish and the girl in the woods are tastefully combined such that as both mirror each other’s movements, we are able to tell that they are closely connected as a fish and human being, even though it is all done through mime.

Definitely worth watching with a refreshing presentation of multi-disciplinary originality, albeit being an adaptation work!


About Bhumi Collective
Bhumi Collective is a multi-disciplinary performing arts company that develops and produces intercultural and transnational work between artists from different parts of the world.

Bhumi Collective acknowledges the participation of the following team menders in creating Ikan Girl:
Soultari Amin Farid (Creative Director/Lackey)
Mohamad Shaifulbahri (Producer)
Syafiqah ‘Adha Sallehin (Composer/Co-Music Director/Accordionist)
Nabillah Jalal (Co-Music Director/Pianist)
Stella Chung (Lighting Designer)
Zaidi-Sabtu Ramli (Flautist)
Ramu Thiruyanam (Percussionist)
Ismahairie Putra Ishak (Violinist)
Nur Azilla Abdul Rahman (Girl)
Nadia Abdul Malek (Ikan)
Rupalavanya Balasubramaniam (Queen)
Nur Muhammad Maidin, Anna Natassha, Nur Atikah Mansoor, Nurul Amira Mohd Azlin (Ensemble)


Potrait of a Virtuoso/Ikan Girl
part of Singapore International Festival of Music (SIFOM)

By: Nabillah Jalal on piano/Syafiqah ‘Adha Sallehin on accordion & Bhumi Collective
Date: 23 Oct 2016, Sun
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Chamber, The Arts House