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[Eng] A reportage on New Works Forum: Screendance (20 July to 1 Aug 2015)

Nineteen participants, gathering dance artists and filmmakers across Hong Kong, China and Taiwan

participated in this inaugural New Works Forum: Screendance co-presented by West Kowloon Cultural

District and City Contemporary Dance Company. It was an initiative to promote the hybrid creations

between dance and film in Hong Kong. The intense and intimate twelve days included lectures,

workshops in the first five days followed by consultation, production, experimentation and sharing in

the next five days; leading to a creation of a final 3 minutes trailers to pitch to the designated panelist

for possible commission. The 19 participants were Abby Chan, Adrian Yeung, Chiu Chih-hua, Chloe Lao

Cho-wa, Ho Qi-wo (Er Gao), Hugh Cho, Ivy Tsui Yik-chit, Jessy Tsang Tsui-Shan, Jolene Mok, Li De, Lin I-

pin, Peng Hsiao-yin, Remu Iwai, Sigo Tseng Huan-shin, Trista Ma Ka-yue, Yuh Egami, Yun-ting Tsai, Ziv

Chun and myself.

The experience of this forum is still surreal and resonating with me now. It was a meaningful encounter

in finding our very own way of meeting, viewing, learning, sharing and creating dance film within a

collective setting among the invited film and dance artists. As one of the participants, the twelve days

process has triggered me to further question my own journey and philosophical discourse of dance film

creation in many layers. Who is the author of a dance film? (between the director or the choreographer)

How can a choreographer be a dance filmmaker and vice-versa, how does a filmmaker play

choreographer? What will happen to the liveness of dance after being captured by the camera? What

comes after is perhaps the memory of the dance through intervention of film medium, is it? After all,

what still lingers vividly in my thoughts is this very essential question, what is dance film? or what could

dance film be?

There were a few propositions and statements presented during the workshop. One of the mentors in

this forum, Noemie Lafrance, urged us to think further about the INTERSECTION between dance and

film. The other mentor, Maurice Lai, stressed on the importance of “dance” as the STARTING POINT (or

materials) where the “film” is the medium to present the final work. I value both points of view at the

same time I am contemplating the need of context to learn about both mediums before the


The forum was led by four mentors: two veteran international dance filmmakers: Noemie Lafrance from New York/Canada and Sue Healey from Australia; two Hong Kong very own award winning

choreographer Yuri Ng and dance filmmaker Maurice Lai. Together with the mentors, there were three

other guest lecturers including cinematographer Kwan Pun-leung, action director Jack Wong and MV

director Susie Au. The faculty members are experienced and highly respected in their field.

Beside the richness in the programs and workshops, the forum was also well planned and supported administratively and production aspect as a whole. Twelve full-time dancers were hired, three producers and cinematographers together with an editor at the end to facilitate the editing process for the 3 minutes trailers. The collaboration between artistic, production and administrative teams was truly remarkable. The attentiveness and physical presence from the organisers being in the daily process was one touching encounter for me. There are also many observers from the industry of journalism sharing the space with us giving reflective feedbacks to the whole process. Looking at this forum in a wider picture, it clearly showed very strong commitment and vision from the organisers in effort to cultivate the medium of dance film for the community.

Coming back to the question: what could dance film be? I would like to share my summary on Raymond

Wong’s presentation regarding the meaning of terminology between Dance Film, Dance for Camera,

Dance Video and Screendance. He is the Managing Director for CCDC, and is also one of the key persons that initiated the Jumping Frames Video Dance Festival in Hong Kong.

His interpretations are as follows:

1. Dance Film, in which film elements and cinematographic treatments are very much incorporated as

the final out-come of the work.

2. Dance Video, where focus is in the integration/perspective of dance as visual arts/media arts to be

showcased in gallery space in most cases.

3. Dance for Camera, the choreography of dance in the medium of camera/digital media.

4. Screendance, the container for all of the above. Therefore, it is diverse and encourages all hybrid


In a hindsight, perhaps the naming of our forum as Screendance is to encourage diversity on what could

constitute to the possibility of dance film for all of us here. Naming a few participants that I find fascinating to know more about their works are Jolene Mok (experimental video artist from Hong Kong), Jessey Tsang Tsui-Shan (feature film filmmaker from Hong Kong), Chiu Chih-hua (new media artist from Taiwan) and rista Ma (multi-faceted short-film filmmaker from Hong Kong).

In the 3 minutes trailer, Jolene demonstrated a very interesting approach to dissect a movement of

“turning” into different framing of the body in relation to the fundamental initiation of a movement.

Jessie showed her cinematic approach in setting up a molecular connection between the small muscles

and emotions of the dancers at the dinner table. Chih-hua shares his connection to the relentless mundanes state of mind in capturing the casual movement from the dancers to a specific mood and story on a roof top in Wong Tai Sin. One notable mention for Trista’s trailer, I was already very ntrigued

by her proposition from the start before it went on shoot. The surrealistic image of many headless “humanlike” sculptures moving on the beach is truly poetic and poignant. I am really looking forward to see the final work of these propositions. Excitingly, the injection of these fresh perspectives is perhaps one very crucial ingredient to bring forward the new possibilities of cross- disciplinary collaborations in Hong Kong dance film.

The actual hands on approach to intersect, interact and converse between artists in an organised forum

with conceptual and practical intervention like this was indeed fruitful. On another level, perhaps a less

stressful and production oriented platform could also work brilliantly to break new ground. This piphany was clearly seen in the one day screendance workshop led by Sue Healey, open to the public.

The one day workshop is more on doing, shooting, exploring and sharing with some tasks and facilitations. I witnessed a very different energy in this fun intervention to generate interest between film and dance across different people from all walks of life from this workshop. The outcome was liberating. The element of less judgmental and discursive but using “play” to create is also one very important aspect perhaps we should keep in our art-making process.

What is dance film? or What could dance film be? will remain for the continuous search in my future dance film creation. I sense the underlying current of this forum as a platform to propel the critical discourse in the community of dance artists in Hong Kong. At the same time friendship flourishes between the artists, administrators and production crews which I see a very positive long term commitment sprouting.

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