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[Eng]Oddities of ODDs and Dreamer of the Galaxy

December 10, 2015

 

ODDs, choreographed by Ivanhoe Lam Chun Ho, followed by Galaxy Dreamer, choreographed by Max Lee Kin Wai, made up the 70-minute Dance On series double-bill performance with Pewan Chow as artistic consultant.

 

In the post-performance talk, Lam explains that during his three-month residence in Switzerland working with other artistes, he was the odd one who reached out to another to form an even entity or a couple. Both Lam and Shirley Tsoi Wan Wa take turns to perform a solo and also pair up to dance together.  With the infrequent appearance of a third performer, Lam tries to portray a total of nine ‘couples’. There are about seven scenes in ODDs. A Cantonese monologue by Tsoi on her discontinuous reminiscence in a foreign land fills one scene. In another scene Tsoi is a physical fitness trainer instructing Lam in Putonghua to keep going with the exercise.  In yet another scene, Tsoi reads a letter and then sways to the music with Lam.  Two sound artists and musicians from Switzerland provide the soundscapes. The harshest noise is the amplified snapping of plastic sheets tearing or separating, when one performer runs towards one end holding a roll of cling wrap and another runs to the opposite end, pulling the cling wrap from the same roll, thus unwinding a long and narrow stretch of plastic film tautly stretched out across the stage about three feet above the ground. It divides the stage and also separates the dancers.

 

A small cyclorama or screen at the back of the stage and a rotating platform are elements added to heighten visual interest. The screen is covered up by vertical blinds, which unfold to show part of what is happening on the stage. As I catch sight of a momentary still image on this screen when the dancer is moving, I realize that it is not a reflecting mirror but a video projection of the same dance in an earlier scene, or perhaps it’s taken from rehearsal. For most scenes, a round platform is placed at the center of the stage. A pole about a meter long extends perpendicularly from the edge of the platform. At the far end of the pole, what looks like a video camera is attached. This whole structure reminds me of an enormous guitar with a perfectly round body minus the strings. As the platform rotates slowly, the pole moves horizontally along an invisible circumference.  Sometimes the dancers get onto the platform. At other times, the two dancers move close to the platform, feet on the ground, always out of the way of the long pole without appearing to pay any attention to it. The platform seems to form a barrier between two persons and also to divide the stage.  The online program at LCSD website mentions the forging of an orbit within the soul that allows for introspection. It is unclear to me what reflections the dancers arrive at in navigating this circular course.  

 

In Galaxy Dreamer, a homeless person in rags, Kenny Leung Kim Fung, remains on stage almost all the time. He may stay motionless, or he may walk to the bundles scattered around the stage. He runs, bounces, turns somersault, as well as dances to the rhythm of the music, which is accompanied by loud hustle and bustle of city overlaid with the repeating announcements typically heard by passengers in mass rapid transit trains. There are no props indicating any vehicles, but two tables are placed on the left and right of the stage. Two men in suits and ties, Lai Tak Wai and Li Long Hin, mine a scene of commuting to work, arriving at the office, getting seated at the empty desks, typing at a keyboard and a moving a computer mouse, talking business silently on the phone, eating lunch at the work desks, and watching the clock when it approaches the end of the work day. Later they crawl under their desks to sleep, signaling that it is bedtime, reinforced by the announcement that the last train is in service. Throughout, they ignore the vagabond, whose dirty face is half covered by his unruly hair. Between observing the two office workers, he also dances either in a detached manner, or in a frenzy, to tell his own incomprehensible story. Close to the end, a scrim at the front of the stage shows projections of asteroids traversing and numerous stars illuminating the night sky. The soul-less busy city life has induced the homeless man to reach for the sky and beyond. The galaxy on the scrim also suggests that despite the mind-boggling work that grabs our full attention, we are each but an insignificant and invisible speck in the colossal universe engulfed in the twinkling spots.

 

I have a preference for a coherent plot, hence I enjoyed Galaxy Dreamer more due to the portrayal of characters providing continuity in a story. I could empathize with the marginalized, forgotten being who could be pitying others in their endless, meaningless toil. The parallel and symmetric movements of the two working city dwellers nicely contrast the rhythmic drift and unpredictable thrust of the homeless man, all quite in tune with the beat.  I found ODDs to be too fragmented with its presentation of one individual or pair after another. The lone figure conveys neither melancholy nor peaceful solitude, and the steps the couple use in their dancing are dull. It seems to try to make up for what it lacks in movement with visuals and sound, but the amplified humming irritates and the scratching jars the ears.

 

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Selina Tng

has a degree in computing and financial management. She has been working in the commercial sector for many years. She loves literature and theatre, and wishes she has more time for reading novels and seeing films and theatre performances. Hong Kong Dance Alliance helps her to get started in dance appreciation.

 

Date: 30 October 2015

Time: 8pm

Venue:  Black Box Theatre, Kwai Tsing Theatre


Photographer: Cheung Chi-wai
 

 

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