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[Eng] Gestalt and Undefinable Unity

Gestalt, choreographed by Jacky Yu and presented by E-side Dance Company, is a contemporary dance that aims to express the possibilities of the body. Hence, it is highly energetic with extensive and quick movements throughout, demanding top physical form from the seven dancers in the eighty minutes of its performance. According to the promotional material, as a departure from his usual practice, Yu has gone for fewer props and no set. Indeed, with a bare stage, the audience can focus totally on the dancers continuously and forcefully in motion, pushing their bodies to the limit.

The dancers dazzle instantly from the first scene with displays of amazing floor work. Keeping their upper bodies low to the ground, each dancer twists and turns their torso, with one arm or one foot in contact with the ground, alternating the supporting arm or leg quickly and easily, while keeping pace with the pulsating beat of the percussion music. They roll, slither, and spiral on the floor. Each dancer in subsequent scenes also offers his or her own body as a pivot to another dancer to swing around in the empty space or over another dancer. Another memorable scene is of a female dancer rotating steadily around her male partner while he holds her foot.

1. Gestalt, Dancers: Ivy Tsui, Evains Lui, Charlie Leung, Tracy Wong, Felix Ke, Henry Shum and Po Lam Photographer: Mark Lam

The stage, amply lit, is sparse. It is lightly clouded with mist at one point. At another point, twelve lamps briefly illuminate the dancers standing at the upper stage, casting shadows as long as their height. However, the absence of stage effects isn’t missed, the audience is absorbed in the exciting and invigorating action of the dancers. Arms stretched out and feet flung apart, the dancers seem to be earnestly grabbing the surrounding space. Running, jumping, swinging, kicking, and thrusting untiringly, they liberate themselves in hot pursuit of an invisible goal. They collaborate, whirling and turning with different partners, giving a hand to lift a dancer, landing on the floor on all fours to let another dancer lie on their back, or even letting a partner doing a backward arch hold onto their neck. They dance in unison with one another, but they are seldom moving the same way together, hence, they also seem to compete, pulling towards and then pushing away a partner, trying to spin faster and spring further, not to be outdone by the other. Through it all, each exercise precision and control in their manoeuvres within the confined space, with no collision or fumbling when all are in motion at the same time. The effect is strength, and not chaos.

2. Gestalt, Dancer: Ivy Tsui Photographer: Mark Lam

The action is so vigorous and rapid that the dancers must surely falter and succumb to weariness. There are moments when the dancers slow down, move in a more relaxed manner, or even stand still at the back of the stage, with a brief slowdown or softening of the music. Each also takes turn to briefly exit the stage, leaving solos, duets, or quartets on the stage to commence another series of difficult movements, but they soon re-enter to resume their steps to the pounding and throbbing music.

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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 and is an occasional contributor to dance journal/hk.

Date: 22 January 2016

Time: 8pm

Venue: Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre Theatre

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