Pomelo‧Orange‧Tangerine; Dancers: (from left) Ming Pak, Yang Chang, Zhang Yixiang; Photo provided by Hong Kong Arts Festival
Dance Exchange was a co-production of Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Chinese Dance Association’s Young Artists Platform of Dance. The evening featured three commissions namely Pomelo‧Orange‧Tangerine by choreographers and dancers Ming Pak from Hong Kong, Yang Chang from Sichuan, and Zhang Yixiang from Beijing; Fly Me to the Moon choreographed and danced by Yang Hao who is originally from China and now is Hong Kong-based, Judy Yiu from Hong Kong, and Li Chao from Sandong; and, ..after…. choreographed and danced by Poon Chun-ho and Xie Xin, the former a trained actor from Hong Kong and the latter a freelance dancer/choreographer from Jiangxi, as well as dancers Wang Qi and Liu Xue.
The first work used three different fruits - a pomelo, an orange, and a tangerine as metaphor for the differences and similarities of the choreographer/dancers, while the second, drew a parallel to the goal of getting to the moon as a reflection on the collaborative process, while the third relied on the simplicity of chairs and a table as its props. All three works had many moments of ingenuity, beauty, poignancy, and resonance but could have benefitted from tighter editing. Each was approximately 30 minutes long, no doubt at the producer’s request. This is a good direction and one that is most essential for young and emerging choreographers. However, one of the hardest tasks for a choreographer is to self-edit, and end at precisely the right moment, when all that needed to be said, has been. There were also startling similarities in the structure of the works, and the use of music – it has become or is becoming a norm to use a French song, or a recognizable tune from the past, in the middle of the work. However, the evening showcased some of the most engaging contemporary dance performers who possessed great technique, facility, and personality. This was particularly enjoyable as the lexicon of contemporary dance globally sometimes portrays a blankness or sameness that is predictable. Putting minor grievances aside, it was a pleasurable and satisfying night at the theatre.
The production of Dance Exchange brought a freshness perhaps as a result of the individuals or possibly too, as all cross-border dialogue necessitates revelation of self. It appeared that all choreographers selected had a sense of humor, knew how to laugh, enjoy life and the stage, a lot more than one is used to seeing. Often contemporary dance suffers the danger of pretention or an exercise in navel-gazing. This group of young choreographers brought with them an honestly, and a willingness to laugh at their own shortcomings or perceived deficiencies such as height, or thinning hair, which was most becoming.
The highlight of the evening was ..after…. choreographed and performed by Xie Xin and Poon Chun-ho, and performed together with Wang Qi and Liu Xue. This collaboration brought together artists trained in different fields, Poon from theatre and Xie from dance, and perhaps that was one of the reasons it worked well. The piece was an impassioned dialogue between a pair of lovers who seemed to be simultaneously remembering and questioning their past, and their future, while living in the present. Choreographed with seamless articulation between their present selves and their memories or their projection, its clever intertwining among the four dancers was rich and layered. The cohesive transitions were well-thought through and designed, and brought the audience on a journey of reflection.
The Jockey Club Contemporary Dance Series is a vital dance production that intends to keep nurturing young artists, and is critical for the development of dance in Hong Kong. This is most especially so, as more and more venues are being built and audiences need to be developed. This production captures the zeitgeist of 21st century Hong Kong, that essential dialogue needs to take place, as relationships are defined and redefined between Hong Kong and Mainland China… art imitates life and vice versa.
=== Joseph Gonzales
was Dean of Dance, National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Malaysia for two decades. He is an educator, choreographer, author, curator, producer, and Artistic Director of ASK Dance Company. Currently, he is Professor of Dance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
Dance Exchange Choreographers: (Hong Kong) Poon Chun-ho, (Jiangxi) Xie Xin; (Hong Kong) Yang Hao, (Hong Kong) Judy Yiu, (Shandong) Li Chao; (Hong Kong) Ming Pak, (Sichuan) Yang Chang, (Beijing) Zhang Yixiang Performance: 3 March 2018 20:15 Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre