Choreographer Naomi Tan and Chef Nixon Low are the creative duo behind Singapore’s first food and dance immersive experience, Project Plait, which juxtaposes culinary expertise alongside performance arts. Read their story here.
Singapore is a city that has hosted its fair share of immersive cultural experiences, including Andsoforth and Secret Cinema. One of the more unusual ones to be offered up has come from a collaboration between Choreographer Naomi Tan and Chef Nixon Low. The pair behind Project Plait, a yearly production pop-up show debuted in 2015 that blends food and dance into a one-of-a-kind experience, they’ve established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in Singapore’s art and culture scene. The idea is all about weaving experiences together – hence the ‘Plait’ – and tells a different, whimsical story each year it comes to life. Six successful shows later, the pair spoke to Hive Life about why pushing the boundaries of creativity is so important in their city today.
Both Nixon and Naomi have been making a name for themselves in their own respective fields for a while. Nixon has worked in the kitchen at big shots including the Shangri-La and Scarlet Hotel, securing the Top Local Chef by SG Magazine Online award in 2014, whilst Naomi has been a choreographer at the city’s esteemed The Arts Fission Company. “Big shifts start with small changes, and if we would like our arts and culture scene to grow, we have to start being the change we would like to see,” begins Naomi of why the two embarked on Project Plait. “At this level, we have already started to broaden our guests’ perspective of culinary and performing arts. There’s still so much more to come.”
Photo Credits: Chu Chen
With the target of one production per year, Project Plait works hard and smart to stay appealing, yet out of the ordinary. Chef Nixon says, “The idea is to have a backbone of the storyline up first, which has to go in a food-related direction. Once the idea is up, Naomi and I sit down to discuss how the dishes and dance can correlate harmoniously.” And through both, they tell a story. “Last year, our show was about a Samsui woman, a story which was set during WWII. I had to do a lot of research to ensure our story was historically accurate,” explains Naomi. A lengthy process, building up the storyline takes time to perfect with anticipated alterations at every turn before the masterpiece comes out to play. What comes next? The extravagant menu, which takes two to three months to complete, is assembled in relation to the theme of the show, whether it’s more emotional or more contextual. With a brief insight into the theme of the night, guests arrive at a venue where they are then treated to a two-hour show, where dance performances are interspersed with a five-course, standout meal. Each element from the dish to the dancing is carefully choreographed with precision. “In a Dance x Food event, the connection is very important. Each dance piece is time-recorded so the exact time to start plating can be adhered to,” explains Naomi. And the whole thing comes together to tell a story, taking in all the senses of sight, smell and touch as they do, adds Naomi. And, whilst it might look like the whole thing flows natural, it takes a whole team and a lot of coordination make a show run successfully.
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As the project has established itself, Naomi says she has seen an increasing inquisitiveness amongst a local crowd keen to experience something new. Making sure that they get that from Project Plait, the duo keep all details of any upcoming shows secret. “We keep the details a surprise so our guests experience both the dance and food they are presented with without any preconceived notions,” she says, with the aim of providing them with an immersive experience that takes them out of their ordinary lives to a place their imagination can run free. “We would like the audience to feel that they have gained a new perspective on art and food. Furthermore, we hope they take away a new perspective that we work very hard to portray in our works. Expect the unexpected at Project Plait,” ends Naomi.