Editor’s Note: iCoDaCo (International Contemporary Dance Collective) is a biennial artist led intercultural exchange project within the landscape of contemporary dance. The collaborative project was first initiated by the Gothenburg (Sweden) based international company and organization - ilDance, in 2012. The following reflection is written by an attendee of the iCoDaCo showcase which themed Transformation at Taikoo Place ArtisTree.
（後排左起）Lee Brummer, Eddie Ladd, Weronika Pelczynska, Imre Vass；（前）梅卓燕
(Clockwise from top left) Lee Brummer, Eddie Ladd, Weronika Pelczynska, Imre Vass, Mui Cheuk-yin
圖片由Swire Properties’ ArtisTree提供 Photo provided by Swire Properties’ ArtisTree
iCoDaCo（國際當代舞共同體，International Contemporary Dance Collective）在2012年成立，資源提供方是Creative Europe Programme。每兩年，來自不同國家的藝術家組成新的共同體版本，進行跨文化交流，輪流在成員的家鄉城市駐場創作及演出。今年iCoDaCo來到了成員梅卓燕的城市——香港，讓我們有機會一睹她與另外四位成員，包括來自瑞典的 Lee Brummer、威爾斯的Eddie Ladd、波蘭的Weronkia Pelczynska，以及匈牙利的 Imre Vass，的演出。今屆的第六位成員李偉能，因為海外演出行程未能出席在香港的呈現。
iCoDaCo (International Contemporary Dance Collective), first initiated in 2012, is a collective of international choreographers and dance artists who come together every two years on an intercultural exchange project, the output of which is a rotational residency and performance in the host countries of the collective members. Funded predominantly by “Creative Europe Programme” of the EU, in 2018 iCoDaCo travels to Hong Kong, the hometown of member Mui Cheuk-yin. Along with her are other core collective members, namely Lee Brummer from Sweden, Eddie Ladd from Wales, Weronkia Pelczynska from Poland, and Imre Vass from Hungary. Joseph Lee from Hong Kong, the 6th participating choreographer in this iteration, was absent from the presentation due to a tour schedule clash.
iCoDaCo網站上是這樣寫的：「每兩年，新的共同體由不同國藉的藝術家組成。這一個令人興奮的小社會（創意群體）象徵（我們身處的）的大社會。」（Every two years a new collective of international choreographers and dance artists are gathered together to form an exciting micro society [creative community] that functions as a symbolic representation of the macrocosmos [the world we live in] ）共同體沒有編舞或導演頭兒，藝術家們本着「且看如何」的好奇投身其中。這麼一來，我會把iCoDaCo想象成一種對烏托邦的經營：如果人們都抱持開放且信任，那麼這個世界的你和我，會否不那麼涇渭分明？
The iCoDaCo website says that “every two years a new collective of international choreographers and dance artists are gathered together to form an exciting micro society (creative community) that functions as a symbolic representation of the macrocosmos (the world we live in).” There isn’t a head choreographer or director in the group. Artists throw themselves in, powered by the curiosity of what comes out of that. In this sense iCoDaCo serves as a utopian enterprise: if people could do this in a creative community, will they act similarly in a world of MEs vs YOUs?
With globalization becoming the norm instead of exception, we find ourselves torn between two forces: one the craving for place-bound identity, for a sense of belonging, and for the firm hold of steady images amidst the non-stop flux of information. On the other hand, there is the desire to be transported across countries so that we connect with our contemporaries. How does the temporary integration across geographical boundaries of iCoDaCo members contribute to the concept of “collective”?
Without the least intention of being derogatory, based on the presentation on 22nd August and the discussion I had with the artists on the 18th, the Hong Kong iteration came across to me more like a collaborative presentation and I really wish that this perception was misguided by my limited knowledge of what has been done since 2012. People enter collectives as individuals and come out as part of an “individ-able” whole. The paradox of iCoDaCo is that while it positions itself as a collective, it has to emphasize the artists’ individuality in order to stress its cross-cultural, cross-background characteristic, which may or may not be its edge for attracting funding and travel opportunities. Besides juxtaposing differences and making them visible to audiences in different cities, what else can iCoDaCo do as one powerful mass in the context of contemporary dance?
圖片由Swire Properties’ ArtisTree提供
Photo provided by Swire Properties’ ArtisTree
The presentation on the 22nd, titled Transformation, was a structured improvisation comprised of sessions lasting 7, 6, 5 minutes and so on until the final session of one minute. By employing the exercises, materials and discoveries of the ten-day residency in Hong Kong, five artists explored the choreographic problem of movement motivation. How does time duration impact the identification of motivational impulse? Will the accumulation of experiences through the sessions counteract the shortening of their durations?
I propose to approach the presentation with a sense of compassion. It is hard enough for adults to get over etiquettes and self-defence in a group of colleagues with whom you have only spent ten days, let alone being honest and hence vulnerable. Yes, they had talked a lot over the Internet for the past couple of years but the huddling of bodies was missing, one thing which is critically fundamental to dance. Imagining myself in that position, I was really touched to see how these seasoned dance artists chose not to show us their dancey techniques but their alertness to the presence of the others. Eddie Ladd even told the audience that she was no longer interested in dancing. What she enjoyed most now was weight-training. She then invited audience members to inhale and exhale together. By drawing attention to the body’s most fundamental movement and its rhythm, would we be reminded as to why dance, the art of movement, resonates in every living body?
以下要說的對監製們（香港的黃羨彤、威爾斯的Gwyn Emberton以及波蘭的Marta Wolowiec）的功勞可能大不敬：太古坊ArtisTree看來並不是合適場地──尤其是考慮到呈現的形式以及「身體」在其中的重要性。
At the risk of sounding disrespectful to the hard work the producers (Jacqueline Wong from Hong Kong, Gwyn Emberton from Wales, Marta Wolowiec from Poland) had put into the touring, I am not sure if ArtisTree is the appropriate venue to support the format of, and more critically the celebration of the body in the presentation.
The set-up of the venue came in the conventional way of performing area vs audience block. That distance and the “me vs you” positioning was, in my mind, unconducive to the appreciation of how improvisational performers responded to flowing energy. Considering some of the audience members were office workers unfamiliar to the presentation format, the set-up rendered them distanced and detached.
Every audience member was given a decent lunch box with fancy finger food including wagyu beef and mini macarons. The accompanying menu-cum-playbill described the event as “daily nutrition” and the artists, producers and chef as the “culinary team.” There were “tasting notes” to manage expectations. The menu, the venue set-up, the nationality line-up of artists and hence the “cultural mix” packaging overshadowed cultural production under the logic of capitalist circulation. Contemporary dance here was presented as a lunch-time spectacular, a reproduction of the social order of difference and otherness. Contemporary dance, or whatever it is called, was but the supply of more ephemeral images for faster capital flow and accumulation.
One cannot really blame the property developer for this marketing strategy, which is but the natural outcome of the logic, language, value judgment and assumed expectation in a city of consumption such as Hong Kong. In a sense, the property developer should even be recognized for its openess to the “risk” associated with improvisation. I think it really is the responsibility of cultural practitioners to insist on the ownership of drawing the line between resources and dissonance. I see the presentation on the 22nd as a beautiful example of that.
李海燕 Joanna Lee
Art critic, editor, and producer.