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[Eng]Looking Back - Movement with Fan


Dance On Series - Movement With Fan, Choreographer and Dancer: Chen Kai.

Photo Credit: Gary Chiu

Dance On Series - Movement With Fan, Choreographer and Dancer: Chen Kai.

Photo Credit: Gary Chiu

In Movement with Fan, using Chinese calligraphy paper as backdrop and with Song style costumes, choreographer Chen Kai performs different solo movements using fans to music played on the Guqin that look back on, and express appreciation for, the aesthetics of music and movement of ancient China.


Chen’s choreography comprises five pieces. The first, to Thinking of An Old Friend, has the paper unscrolled onto the stage floor and Chen costumed in male dress. His movements for this section are slow and peaceful; his walking and pointing with the fan expressing remembrance of someone distant. Chen changes into a costume for a female and uses a fan of a different color for the next section set to the music, Clouds Over the Rivers Xiao and Xiang. Here the paper is half-rolled-up, with just a corner touching the ground. In this section, Chen’s movements become soft with bending waist and pointing finger suggesting looking forward to seeing a beloved one arriving soon. In the next section, to Recruit Hermit and Going with Old Person Relations, the angle of the paper hanging on the wall is changed. Chen continues to present a visualization of the concept “let the movement speak for itself” through twisting and sweeping and rapid folding and unfolding of the fan. For the final section, he changes again into female attire and his movements are propulsive, throwing and fluttering the fan like a butterfly to High Mountains and Flowing Water. The folding of the paper here evokes a feeling of tradition fading while time flies.


Movement with Fan is part of Chen’s “Classifiable Movement” series in which he attempts to categorize movements according to their features. With his focus on movement and his minimizing of the emotions in the piece, it is not easy for audiences to get into the dance – the different sections seem unconnected. Chen also has help for his on-stage changes of costumes and changes of the paper from one section to the next; the helpers are dressed in modern clothing. The idea is appealing, but the silence during these entr’acte changes diffuses the work’s focus and slightly dilutes its energy. Also, Chen’s nervousness during certain rotating, throwing transitions may be due to his narrow focus on an accurate presentation of the movement category. The audience may also need more time to tune down from the rapid pace of urban life in order to get into Chen’s space.

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Selected work from a Dance Enhance 2016 Participant

Dance Enhance: Dance Appreciation & Criticism Writing Project 2016 is a five-month workshop begun in September 2016 that aims at providing foundation knowledge of dance appreciation and criticism to aspiring dance writers. Structured with a series of lectures, workshops, discussion sessions, and attendance at performances, the workshop helps participants to develop knowledge on different dance types, appreciation skills, and techniques in review writing under the guidance of dance experts. This review was written by Danny Wong, a Dance Enhance participants.

Performance: Dance on Series- Movement with Fan

Date: 2 October 2016 Time: 3pm

Venue: Black Box Theatre, Kwai Tsing Theatre

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