Kelvin Mak in his Made in….
Photo Credit: Mark Lam
Since 2010, under the artistic direction of its founder, Jacky Yu, E-Side Dance Company, has annually presented Showcases of works choreographed and danced by Asian men. The series has also served as a cultural exchange program and, as in previous years, featured works from Japanese, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong artists.
The show opened with local dancer Kelvin Mak’s Made in… Dressed in white and with his hair dyed white, Mak begins his piece with a sequence of popping movements that follow the machine-like rhythms of the soundtrack. Moving energetically to the pace of the lively music, he also plays with a white facemask – putting it on and taking it off, pushing it up and down on his face, and even, at times, wearing it on the back of his head rather than on his face. A video of two men, also wearing white facemasks and engaging in some type of intervention with Mak, is shown. It seems to narrate confrontations Mak faces in his mind as well as in the real world.
Taiwanese dancer Lee Tsung-hsuan, dressed in black, begins his work, D.N.A., using a desk and a wheeled office chair in the front right corner as a restrictive platform to move in reaction to the Putonghua voice-over of a father talking to his son. While moving lightly to soft music, Max Richter’s Something Under Her Skin, Lee stays mostly near the upstage left corner under a dim white spotlight; his black-costumed body and face are barely visible. Perhaps his message here is that it’s not easy for a man to reveal his deep feelings to others.
The next work, Body of Compass, is from Korean Lee Jun-wook, who appears in white T-shirt and black trousers. Without musical accompaniment, the first half of Lee’s work seems like a demonstration of various kinds of modern dance techniques. As he dances, his oversized shadow is projected on the cyclorama. In the second half, Lee seems driven to move by Ryuichi Sakamoto’s noisy, non-rhythmic, improvised music. Occasionally Lee lies on the floor moving his feet like the hands of a clock. Is he looking for direction and cannot reach a destination in a time of uncertainty that is full of noise?
Japanese dancer Akinori Suzuki’s KAMUIRU is up next in which the choreographer presents a solo that has echoes of the Ainu culture of his hometown, Hokkaido. At the beginning of the dance, dressed in black with a plastic bag covering his head and standing amidst bundles of paper, Suzuki makes slight gestures of his hands the way a magician does. It creates a sense of mystery and presages the dramatic change to the next scene that occurs after a series of flashes. Suzuki controls the momentum of his turning and rolling and his full utilization of the stage space and the props creates an impressive picture of the “coexistence of human beings and nature”.
Dressed in white and black, Taiwanese dancer Wang Yeu-kwn uses the "Revenant Mix" of Johann Strauss' Radetzky March Op. 228 performed by Willi Boskovsky with the Wiener Johann Strauss Orchester for his work,Fools. Despite quoting Russian poet Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin’s poem, If By Life You Were Deceived, Wang’s choreography is rather basic and simple without any memorable moments. It hardly leads the audience into finding any relationship among the music, the quotation, and the choreography.
The last work, Unexpected Step, was choreographed and performed by Korean dancer, Choi Jae-hyuk. Dressed in white and black, Choi begins facing back and lying on the apron at the end of a narrow strip of white light that leads to a path crossing it at the rear of the stage. Choi follows the light, crawling slowly to the crossing path. He then dances from left to right under yellowish-orange light; the warm color adds a dash of nostalgia to his movement. Finally, following the track of narrow white light, Choi crawls from the rear back to the apron. Arriving there, he dances across the stage as if set free from his past struggles.
Kudos should be given to the lighting designer, Ng Choi-long, whose lighting allowed each of the works to reach its full abundance.
is currently studying for a Doctor of Applied Language Sciences degree at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She started studying flamenco in Hong Kong in 2009 and was a participant in the Hong Kong Dance Alliance Dance Enhance: Dance Appreciation & Criticism Writing Project 2015.
Performance: Contemporary Dance Showcase: Asian-Male Episode 7
Date: 5 November 2016
Venue: Theatre, Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre