Yokohama Dance Collection 2019
翻譯 Translation: Pomny Chu
2019 橫濱舞集頒獎典禮 Yokohama Dance Collection 2019 Award Ceremony；攝Photo：塚田洋一 Tsukada Yoichi
衝出香港，踏上國際舞台，相信是不少舞蹈藝術家的目標。網路資訊的發展令藝術家更容易捕捉世界各地的演出機會。除了應邀到海外舞蹈節演出之外，也可主動出擊參加國際性比賽。每年日本的橫濱舞集（Yokohama Dance Collection）都會舉辦舞蹈比賽，其中Competition I 是開放給國內外舞蹈家參加的平台，今年香港舞蹈家王丹琦（WONG Tan-ki）和李思颺（Justyne Li）帶著他們的作品《分割》（Division），踏上了這比賽的舞台。為期兩天的比賽緊張刺激，我也把握機會在比賽過後與他們二人對談一番，分享一下這趟旅程的點滴經歷。
It is the aspiration of many a dance artist in Hong Kong to reach beyond their hometown and to present their work at an international platform. The advanced development of Internet and the consequent accessibility of information has made it easier for artists to locate performing opportunities around the world. Apart from being invited to perform overseas, artists can also participate in international competitions through their own initiatives. Yokohama Dance Collection (the Yokohama) is an annual dance competition in Yokohama, Japan. Competition I is open to local and international dancers. This year two dancers from Hong Kong, Wong Tan-ki and Justyne Li, took part in the competition with their work, Division. The two-day competition was intense and exciting. I had the opportunity to talk with Wong and Li and ask them to share their experiences of this journey.
Not allowing a competition to become a burden
Many artists find it stressful to participate in competitions. There are normally set rules and standards for the assessment of dance, which some artists feel are inappropriate in evaluating contemporary choreography. The participants do not always understand what appear as subjective criteria and do not see the point of being judged by them. Justyne and Tan-ki admitted that they were not fully aware of the objectives and the criteria of the contest. Unlike the expectations for a performance, they were uncertain about what to expect from this competition. “It seems ridiculous to have choreography graded. I don’t believe there can be a consistent and systematic set of criteria for assessing choreography,” Justyne laughingly said.
Although the idea of a “competition” can put pressure on artists, there can also be positive effects. “I was strongly motivated to improve myself in performance because of this competition. I told myself repeatedly in every rehearsal to do better. I did not like even the smallest mistake in a dance performance,” Justyne said. Tan-ki also agreed with her, “After all, the Yokohama was an international performing platform. It was so important to do our very best as professional performers rather than concentrate solely on winning the competition.” After the Yokohama performance, the two performers also evaluated their own attitudes towards “competition.” “It was good for us to let go the mindset of competing with others and to avoid being influenced by the competition criteria in the creation of our dances.” It was better to see this event as a platform to present our work to audiences from around the world. This seemed a positive way to approach this competitive experience.
Growing as artists and refining the work
This was the second performance of Justyne and Tan-ki’s Division after the debut in Macau in 2017. This version for the Yokohama was not the same as the first version. Justyne maintained that choreographers and performers learnt from every performance experience and discovered new elements that could then be reworked and integrated into the production. In rehearsals the two dance artists interrogated their work further and refined every detail, making every part more concrete and mature.
《分割》Division；編舞及舞者 Choreographers & Dancers（由上 from top）：李思颺Wong Tan-ki，王丹琦Justyne Li；攝Photo：Gloria Ho
Exploring and seeing the world through dance
Before going to Japan, Justyne and Tan-ki still had not received the result of their grant application, so they had to pay for themselves as well as the travel expenses of a lighting designer and stage manager. But they thought it was worth it. Whether they were successful or not in the competition, it did not matter as much as the whole new creative and personal journey for them. Not only could they present their dance work to an international audience, but they could also broaden their professional horizons by participating in an international dance exchange. “I have been given opportunities to go to more places because of dance. If I only limit myself to dance performances in Hong Kong, I will miss out on many things. I feel very happy about seeing a lot of good performances overseas and meeting the dancers I admire.
《分割》Division；編舞及舞者 Choreographers & Dancers（左起 from left）：李思颺Wong Tan-ki，王丹琦Justyne Li；攝Photo：Gloria Ho
Getting on stage and meeting more artists
As choreographers and performers, Justyne and Tan-ki both anticipated more opportunities to perform overseas. “Being able to perform on stage is all that I want,” Justyne said. Tan-ki expected more. “Through performing abroad, I want to interact directly with other artists, for us to observe each other and to engage in discussions.”
Comment from Jacky Fung
These performing platforms such as the Yokohama Dance Collection gather participants from different countries and regions. The opportunities for exchange are not the only incentive for artists to attend. Another motivation for artists is the chance to be inspired and challenged by fresh ideas for future choreography. Apart then from performing and viewing other works of dance, I encourage Hong Kong artists to seize opportunities like this and to get involved in discussions and other international exchange activities. Through interacting with more artists and having more conversations, new ideas will emerge and develop on the local dance scene.