Charmene Yap has worked with the Sydney Dance Company since January 2010 and recently performed in the Sydney season of Rafael Bonachela's The Land of Yes & The Land of No.

She is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts completing a Bachelor of Arts in Dance in 2006 and has worked as a freelance dancer for various choreographers and companies around Australia and internationally. Charmene was nominated for the prestigious world-wide Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative Award and has been a successful applicant for the 2009/10 SCOPE program to expand her interest in architecture.

Charmene Yap spoke to Australian Stage's Paul Andrew.

Charmene YapCharmene, The Land of Yes & The Land of No, it's such an evocative title for a work – what does this name evoke for you?
The title evokes a dual side to people and also how we deal with others. It represents the idea that there are two – or more – sides to everything and often a negative and a positive, each of which you can interpret into a human response.

The overall work comes from Rafael’s fascination with signage – for example, street signs and directions. We are all told what to do and where to go multiple times every day. Each of the segments in The Land of Yes & the Land of No relates to a specific example of this. The title, however, has a more evocative and emotional element to it.

Tell me about a most memorable performance?
Absolutely opening night at the Brisbane Festival – the first time I performed the work. I have a solo that opens the show and it was an amazing feeling to finally be on stage after an intensive rehearsal period.

Ezio Bosco's score – what in particular do you feel this score teases from deep inside your body as you dance?
A lot of Ezio’s music is emotive – he creates work that touches the soul. Some of it is recorded sound, from a market place for example, which is mixed with instrumental music, which I feel humanizes the music even more. It taps into the human emotions.

What do you feel is the primary concept is behind the work?
The Land of Yes and the Land of No is a deep exploration into the human psyche, the power of imagination and the body’s ability to give physical shape to memory, experience and emotions.

The performance begins with your solo?
My solo was initially created by our Dance Director, Amy Hollingsworth (who performed it in the original version of the production). It is a very personal solo to her and I’ve had to insert my own emotion into to it. Hopefully translating it in a unique way!

Tell me about what you feel is the most inspirational aspect to this work, how so, why so?
The work is clean and pulled back which means it allows each us to personalise our performance.

From a dancer's perspective can you tell me something about one key aspect of the lighting design for this work?
At the beginning I’m in total darkness, then the light flickers on and I enter in silence. It’s atmospheric and spine tingling!

Which costume do you adore dancing in the most during this work?
In The Land of Yes & the Land of No, for the first time ever, I’m in pants! It’s so comfortable.


Image credits:–
Charmene Yap. Wendell Levi Teodoro @ ZEDUCE

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