‘Psychosynthesis’ explores hardships of the pandemic

A stunning fusion of contemporary dance, ballet, science and multimedia, 'Psychosynthesis' is a dynamic and fast-paced theatrical dance production.


Psychosynthesis is a theatrical dance production that combines the grace of ballet with abstract movements of contemporary dance. Representing a collaboration between Asia Ballet Academy, Asia Ballet Theatre and Kenny Shim Dance Collective, the production is essentially about the challenges faced by people who suffered through the global pandemic. The impressionistic collage of movement and dance is informed by the emotional and mental struggles faced by the people during the pandemic, especially the repercussions of isolation on humanity, a fundamentally social species. Just like the vast majority of the arts during the pandemic, Psychosynthesis was deeply affected as well, suffering multiple setbacks and funding cuts. Triumphantly, the organisers have finally been able to bring the production to life at PJPAC this weekend.

This writer had the opportunity to witness a preview of the performance. Choreographed by the award-winning Kenny Shim, who is also the founder of the Kenny Shim Dance Collective, it is said to be the first full-length contemporary dance performance in Malaysia that places science and multimedia at the forefront. Psychosynthesis is not just a dance performance but also a visually stunning symphony of light and music, as dancers sway and spin to strobing flashes of light amid electronic beats. The abstract performance successfully conveys the tumultuous hardships in the early stages of the pandemic and eventually finds resolution with a hopeful, optimistic conclusion as the lights and music recede in harshness and intensity.

“The way the pandemic turned the world upside down, it’s no surprise that many productions have all been centred around the Covid-19 virus,” Amirah Redza, rehearsal manager and dancer in Psychosynthesis, says. “However, I feel Psychosynthesis differs in the way that it encompasses all things Covid; it covers the emotional side, the mental turmoil and struggles that one faced during long periods of social isolation, and it also juxtaposes that against the colder, factual truths of the virus, for example, the spherical structure of the Coronavirus cell, the chemical changes that occur in the brain as a result of isolation.” Fittingly, the eye-catching, enormous light suspended over the stage was spherical, with multiple points of light. The light is ever-present, looming over all the dancers like a spectre, a clear representation of the virus cell. The way the dancers interact with the light also abstractly represents how humanity has come to live alongside the virus.

A big focus of the production was on the gratitude we all feel towards the frontliners and healthcare workers that guarded us against the worst ravages of the virus, day in and day out. According to Shim, “it is a production that really pays tribute to the tireless efforts as well as the endless sacrifices that the medical personnel has contributed to each of our lives.”

Psychosynthesis is a reminder that humanity can make it through the darkest of times with empathy and compassion.

In the words of Shim, “Psychosynthesis promises you an exciting, visually extravagant and blood-pumping performance.” Go see it for yourself this weekend!

Ticket prices start at RM60, with performances at 3pm and 8.30pm from Feb 4 to Feb 5, 2023. Get your tickets here!

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