Where there is life, there is death, and where there is death, there is life. In Dancing with Death, award-winning choreographer Pichet Klunchun creates a space in-between these intertwined worlds where the material and immaterial meet, and where body and spirit exist in a state of kinetic freedom.

Dancing with Death by Pichet Klunchun Dance Company
Dancing with Death by Pichet Klunchun Dance Company

This liminal world—and being—between the living and the dead was first experienced by Klunchun at the Thai folk festival and parade Phi Ta Khon, where locals don colourful masks and vibrant costumes to joyfully honour fertility and death. Here, death is not feared but celebrated, and dance is free, fluid and organic in expression.

This inspired Klunchun to create a new physical vocabulary marrying the improvisational and intuitive nature of folk expression with his contemporary choreographic system based on classical Thai dance. Using this intricate movement language, six dancers, including Klunchun, navigate cyclical paths in a lyrical meditation negotiating human existence. In this realm, the “ghosting” of past dances, gestures and movements return time and again, like the haunting of spirits in the material world but also as manifestations of the material in the ether.

Fast-rising fashion designer Piyaporn Bhongse Tong (Flynow) provides visually stunning costumes that shape-shift and flow with movement, while Japanese collaborators Asako Miura and Hiroshi Iguchi provide light and sonic landscapes respectively, with music sampled from field recordings of the Thai folk festival.

Experience this performance up close, as audiences are seated onstage at the Esplanade Theatre – a rare opportunity to be on the venue’s large stage.

6 & 7 May, Fri & Sat, 8pm
Esplanade Theatre