‘PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR’ takes Asian ballet to new heights

A collaboration between Asia Ballet Theatre (ABT) and Kenny Shim Dance Collective (KSDC), PSYCHOSYNTHESIS is bound to surprise new audiences at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House in Johor Bahru on January 5 to 7, 2024.


PSYCHOSYNTHESIS is all about converging art and science from the start.

After a successful run in January 2023 at PJPAC, the production is now primed for touring to engage the wider audience beyond Klang Valley. PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR is set to wow audiences on Jan 5 to 7, 2024 at Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House, Johor Bahru.

PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR is a joint creative culmination between Kenny Shim Dance Collective (KSDC) and Asia Ballet Theatre (ABT). A show that will definitely pique interests, nurture creativity and enhance learning outcomes in a creative and artistic atmosphere, it is for everyone; not only dance enthusiasts, students and educators alike but those who may be strangers to dance or contemporary dance. Expect this grand introduction to be an immersive experience for various senses!

Malaysia’s pioneering full-length contemporary dance production in Malaysia that makes science and multimedia central in the production process and creative execution is a wonderful feature of local talents. It is a one-of-a-kind visual and kinaesthetic portrayal of COVID-19 and the repercussions of the global pandemic. Throughout the show, the audience would be reminded of the countless struggles and emotional turmoil (solitude, mourning of human interaction) which are intertwined and juxtaposed against factual and scientific truths of the pandemic (the spherical structure of the coronavirus cell, the alteration in brain chemistry as a result of isolation).

Following the show’s press conference at KL Wellness Gallery on 12 December 2023, BASKL had the chance of speaking about the DNA of this show with choreographer, Kenny Shim as well as artistic director, Ivy Chung who are vital to the production of PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR.

What makes PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR different from its first iteration?

Kenny Shim (KS): Honestly, they are not much different. We are actually replicating the entire show from KL and bring it to Johor as a touring project! But there is a difference in how we are bringing in new dancers. The dance climate in Malaysia is such that most dancers are freelancers, so once they are secured for one job, it is very difficult for them to come in halfway through. So we have engaged new dancers to fill in the [recently vacant] spots. We have 24 dancers dancing for the show in total. In this sense, PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR is actually 90 percent the same. Aesthetics, quality-wise, they are the same.

How did you manage to take PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR to Johor Bahru? And why the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House?

KS: [We are glad that] The Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House has extended this invitation to us, they have been so kind as to allow us to utilize this space.

Ivy Chung (IC): Purposefully, we are close to Singapore. We hope PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR is able to attract [not just local enthusiasts but also] Singaporean audiences.

Why should anyone come and watch this show? Essentially, who is it for?

KS: Anyone and everyone. Especially those who are interested in dance, but have never had the opportunity to watch a dance show. This is for those who would like to see a contemporary dance but may sometimes feel afraid to take the approach because it might come out too abstract, like rolling on the floor, doing something that is hard to understand. Yes, PSYCHOSYNTHESIS is an abstract show, but we have made it accessible to non-dancers who have come forward to seek good entertainment, a good night. We have engaged with science and multimedia in order to support the entire theatrical production. Think of it as an experience, not just a dance show.

IC: You can feel its impact as you see it [live] on stage. You can see multitudes from each angle, each corner. Someone who knows about dance will see it from a varying lens; come from a different background, for example, my father who is a painter, will see some things totally different.

KS: I want to emphasize as well how the music and lighting of choice are combined to reel in the younger crowd. As a teacher, I have grown to look at what my students like, they are into a fast-paced, exciting ambiance, and I want these to be accessible to them too without comprising neither the artistry nor the technicalities of the dancers; they are strong, we really have the best of the best here in Malaysia. We have put ourselves out there to ensure that PSYCHOSYNTHESIS is world-class standard, yet accessible to non-dancers.

PSYCHOSYNTHESIS: ON TOUR from Jan 5 to 7, 2024 will be at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House in Johor Bahru, Johor. Tickets for the show are priced at RM99 (Tier 4), RM119 (Tier 3), RM149 (Tier 2) and RM199 (Tier 1). Purchase them via this link. Get to know Asia Ballet Academy from their official website, Facebook or Instagram.

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