[ENG] Review: City Contemporary Dance Company Home Sweat Home

Text: Michael Li


“I made up my mind not to care so much about the destination, and simply enjoy the journey.” - David Archuleta, Singer-Songwriter


This quote from David Achuleta perfectly captures the essence of City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC)’s (latest production Home Sweat Home, which premiered at Freespace, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District on 13 November.


Home Sweat Home embodies complex philosophical concepts surrounding diversity, chaos versus order, and identity and presents them artistically with a sense of humour. The performance is not a surprise, particularly after seeing CCDC’s productions over the years. Yet its examination of these issues puts the whole audience through a journey of self-exploration and reflection.


Diversity is an understatement to describe the show. It features eleven dancers and six musicians, one of whom (Anna Lo) is a singer, pianist, and also the ‘“captain of the flight’” while playing various characters. Multiple languages and dialects are spoken, including Cantonese, Chiuchow, Shanghainese, Taishanese, and of course, English. A variety of genres are presented, including hiphop, funk and modern, as well as poetry and folklore. Dancers skilfully transition from Tai Chi to contemporary dance, to fashion show catwalks and kung fu. The main characters played by Lo and Rick Lau captivated the audience with their voices, dialogue, movement, and flirtatious jokes.


Home Sweat Home / Photo: Yvonne Chan (Photo provided by City Contemporary Dance Company)


There was an abundance of both chaos and order. Numerous suitcases of all sizes, dancers of various heights, genders, and shapes, multiple languages spoken with various tones, men in high heels and women in trench coats. Lights changed, dancers tumbled, texts scrolled across an LED screen, microphones were exchanged. At one moment, dancers were presenting intricate choreography, then at the next moment became storytellers, expressing their concerns and thoughts in monologue.


The sense of chaos began when the audience walked into the theatre. In addition to a theatre ticket, everyone received a boarding pass. Partially this highlighted the concept of the show as a journey, it also reminded people to relax and enjoy the “"Danzcation.” In the midst of all the chaos, there was still a sense of order. A lady in a trench coat goes on walking round the outside of the stage, looking anxious and scared while the performers have the time of their life on the stage. Dancers and musicians transition and the identities of the different characters morph into each other smoothly, even when they reach their destination.


Home Sweat Home / Photo: Yvonne Chan (Photo provided by City Contemporary Dance Company)


Identities were explored. At the very beginning of the show, a dancer tries to speak Cantonese while the flight attendant corrects her pronunciation. The girl happily acknowledges the corrections and quickly applies them the way she speaks. She was both alone and with others while fitting herself into a new culture. A young man is on the phone speaking with his relatives. He tries to explain why he is dancing professionally, the hours he works and the wages he receives. It’s not easy for others to understand why any man would dance for a living in Hong Kong. All the performers on stage are often in motion and transition: they dance from one area to another, march on various spots, sing, speak, and play music throughout. There was a sense of uncertainty that many of them were looking for directions about where to go, whom to become, and what to do. This correlates with CCDC’s identity. For decades, CCDC has presented the image that “contemporary dance is abstract and hard to understand.” One dancer actually speaks this line in the show. The new artistic director, Yuri Ng, definitely brought Home Sweat Home down to earth and provoked everyone in the audience to think further and deeper about the matters that concern them the most.


Home Sweat Home / Photo: Yvonne Chan (Photo provided by City Contemporary Dance Company)


After the show, the audience discovered that the iconic new M+ museum was opening on the same weekend. Hundreds of people walked in and out of the museum and strolled around the West Kowloon neighbourhood. People are speaking in different languages, eating various kinds of food, and taking ridiculous TikTok / meta-poses as if nobody is watching. At the same time, there is a beautiful sunset, which only a handful of people have noticed. Perhaps sometimes we should all just pause a bit, look up, and enjoy the beautiful moments that happen in our journey.



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Michael Li

Michael Li is an educator and administrator in the field of performing arts. He writes about technology, education, and performing arts.



Home Sweat Home

West Kowloon Cultural District and City Contemporary Dance Company

Choreography / Direction: Yuri Ng

Creation / Choreography / Performance: Rick Lau

Creation / Performance: Cheung King-yu, Felix Ke, Eric Kwong, Bobo Lai, Peggy Lam, Shirley Lok, Jacko Ng, Qiao Yang, Zelia Tan, Bruce Wong, Simpson Yau


Reviewed Performance: 14 November 2021 15:00 The Box, Freespace, West Kowloon Cultural District

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