Side Step Festival 2023 | Choy Ka Fai: Yishun Is Burning


Shamanism meets Voguing meets Yishun. For Yishun is Burning, choreographer Choy Ka Fai adapts Singaporean ritual dances for a transcendent, queer solo on a multimedia stage.

On a quest for religious ecstasy, the audience dives into the notorious city of Yishun. Yishun is Singapore’s dystopian suburbia, where hybrid spiritual acts are perpetrated – a suburbia of darkness, a kind of antithesis to the gleaming clean image Singapore cultivates – Singapore has traditionally been known as an authoritarian city state, where society is ruled by control and in which freedom of speech is non-essential.

Yishun is Burning is a multicultural voguing dance party that traverses the boundaries of gender, race, and religion. Inspired by the Singaporean phenomenon of ritual reverence of deities in their struggle against evil. The performance will be led by Norwegian-Thai dancer Sun Phitthaya Phaefuang a.k.a. Aurora Sun, who enters states between ecstasy, trance and drag.

Sun Phitthaya Phaefuang is a rising star of the Southeast Asian voguing scene whose dance will be accompanied by a music performance coming from the Singaporean Malay band NADA (Rizman Putra and Safuan Johari) and Chinese drummer Cheryl Ong.

Thirty years after the iconic New York documentary Paris is Burning, this evening combines themes of a globalized world with old and new movement traditions and celebrates the search for (one’s own) spirituality in dance.

Concept, Documentary and Direction: Choy Ka Fai
Dramaturgy: Tang Fu-Kuen
Spiritual Presence: Kali and Kuan Yin
Choreography and Dance Performance: Sun Phitthaya Phaefuang
Sound Design and Musical Performance: NADA (Rizman Putra & Safuan Johari) and Cheryl Ong
3D Visual Design and Technology: Brandon Tay
Light Design, Installation and Technical Direction: Ray Tseng
Visual Operator: Damjan Šporčić

The piece uses a fog machine, laser light, strobe and flashing lights. Images of a ritual with self-harming acts are shown, which may have a disturbing effect on some viewers. There is a moment of complete darkness. Loud music as well as repetitive sounds are played.

Tickets: 42 / 38 / 21 eur

Duration: 60 min

Performance in: English, Mandarin, Malay
English Subtitles

The performance on the festiva's website

Dajana Lothert


Buy tickets

Dance House Helsinki, Pannu Hall

Kaapeliaukio 3, Helsinki