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[中][ENG] 邱加希:一往無前的步行者 KT Yau Ka-hei: An Invincible Roamer



The Starting Point: A Man in White


Having lived in Sham Tseng since junior high school, K.T. Yau Ka-hei, the Emerging Choreographer laureate of this year’s Hong Kong Dance Awards, chose it as the place for the shooting location of this interview. As if the commander of an expedition, the petite young woman leads us to a roundabout in Ting Kau. Sneaking past a long narrow staircase, we arrive to a hidden spot of charm under a flyover, one of her treasured secret bases.


The shooting lasts for two hours as Yau changes in and out of costumes and wigs, and just as we finish, the afternoon sunshine becomes less scorching. Yau wants us to have a look at “other nice shooting places” on our way back, so we follow her lead, and visit sites including “the tree in the story of Snow White”, “the vacant beautiful beach arrived by running down”, and “the mansion with floor-to-ceiling windows whose dwellers never show up”. Walking on the never-ending Castle Peak Road for half an hour, we at last come to her final spot: Airport Core Program Exhibition Center.


Yau runs to the garden of the Exhibition Center, glances through the binoculars provided on the rooftop and beckons us to do so as well. Looking through the lens, at the farthermost horizon out into the sea, the Ma Wan Channel first comes into our vision; in front of it is the bustling Tsing Ma Bridge, with cargo ships stacked with all sorts of containers sailing slowly nearby.


“Can you see it?”


“There is a man in white approaching the container on the freighter. Can you spot him?”


In such a big world, what catches the attention of this young post-1990s choreographer most is still the existence of “man”.

//終於抵達她的壓軸景點:機場核心計劃展覽中心。 we at last come to her final spot: Airport Core Program Exhibition Center.//

攝Photo: 羅妙妍 Miu Law


Furthering Upslope: Productions with Experience


“I love walking.” Yau announces, and her predilection turns the interview into a long-distance roaming through the city starting from Sham Tseng. “I am a restless person who cannot tolerate doing the same thing, but walking to a destination is distinct. On the way are different people and cars passing by; I can see different things owing to the subtle changes.”


With her habit of taking long walks, does Yau prefer walking alone or with a companion? She answers without hesitation: “Alone.”


How about on the road of creation? She ponders for a moment this time: “Alone, but there are sometimes people passing by.”


There are always hard times when we create. Talking to the passers-by is just like a timely rain that can help us get over it.

邱加希作品《睇我唔到》Yau’s Remain Invisible; 攝Photo: Eric Hong


Recalling Remain Invisible, a production she choreographed and performed in 2016, Yau remembers crying her heart out on the sofa in the rehearsal room of Y-Space before every rehearsal. She cried because she was under substantial stress; cried when she could not figure things out; and even cried when the recording equipment broke down, and wiped the tears on her own. “A quote from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is really good, ‘If it's not all right, it is not yet the end.’ This is also a thought I have been holding on to—it is not yet the end and that is why things are not alright. Although I am very depressed already every time I remind myself of this belief, I have to go through such a state. Instead of nothing but a ‘happy’ production, I want my works to reflect my experience.”


The freeze-framed experiences in Remain Invisible are the chaos Yau has undergone. After completing a dance program in Israel, Yau could not meet with other people’s expectation and the way they perceived her, causing her to unceasingly reflect on the changes she should make at that stage. “In the end I came up with a notion. In order to make people focus on my body, I cannot let them first see my body.” In Remain Invisible, the audience can see the body of the dancer within limits, while the dancer can never see the audience. When both the audience and the performer get rid of the veil of “seeing”, the latter can show his or her true colors as “they are not seen”, and rethink notions about the dancer’s “body” on the stage, as well as the circumstances that make the “body” qualify as a “performance”.

邱加希作品《純生》Yau’s Unmixed ; 攝Photo: 張志偉 Cheung Chi-wai


A Break: Actions Expressed by the Body


Walking for about an hour, we take a break at the public pier on the way to Tsuen Wan. At the end of the pier are three middle-aged men, strangers. They either stand or sit, facing different directions, drinking beers, and casting their fishing lines at ease. Entranced, Yau slowly says, “Actually, I do not really believe in dancing.”


“I mean, I do not persist in the word ‘dancing’. ‘Dancing’ is not the main expression; I am convinced that our bodies are equally competent.”


Trained as a dancer, the choreographer enjoys moving her body, and finds dance appreciation delightful, but the aesthetic Yau pursues in choreography is not merely about dancing with limbs. She points at the end of the pier, “I am just attracted to people’s bodies and faces. Look at the three standing men. The existence of their bodies is the composition of a picture, which tells the state and relationship between them and yet, they are not ‘dancing’.”


“When I choreograph, I try to find out how the performer can achieve the most diverse and strongest state with the least steps.” In her 2017 production Unmixed, the bodies of four performers are restricted to wheeled stools, which is a practical and figurative device representing the wrestling between our body and mind in the face of social norms. Yau adds that by far she feels it is the deepest among her limited body of work. The creative works I aspire to are neither purely about ‘beauty’ nor aesthetic movements. The ‘dance’ in Unmixed is not a bodily routine, but actions. The audience teaches me these and lets me know that they are achievable.”


“Some audience members say ‘thank you’ to me after seeing my work. I think what that ‘thank you’ means is that we all have something to tell. The production strikes a chord with the audience, mentally offering them understanding and support, which is like saying ‘I understand’ to them. I did not know that before; after producing Unmixed, I become conscious that productions can provide us a kind of liberation. Art changing the world is perhaps a lofty pursuit. Before accomplishing that goal, art has another meaning: my works may not have saved society, politics, or the education system, but in that half an hour I will release myself with you all and feel the freedom we can possess.”


“Unmixed is like having a sip of soda. Can it quench the audience’s thirst for the rest of their lives? That is impossible, but at least they can feel refreshed and have a nice burp, acquiring the strength to find the next refreshing moment. This is how I change the world in the theater.”



A Straight Road: Only the Real is Worthwhile


While shooting the interview photos, Yau changes wigs three times, accordingly creating three different personas. “I like to have an ever-changing image. When I change my hair styles and outfits, my condition and behavior change correspondingly, as if I am acting as another character. However, no matter which personality or appearance I show, they are all my true selves. I just do not want to get bored with my image.”


“I do not like repetitions. Every production I do starts from the desire to try ‘a thing not backed with an idea’; what interests me is the ‘unknown’. Even for the same production, they have to stay new every time I watch it in rehearsal. I just cannot stand tedious stuff.”


“You cannot know from me the things I like and dislike. I am changing every day. I have to change, and I do not have a fixed look.”


With iconic short hair that allows her to wear wigs whenever she wants, Yau repeatedly stresses that she is a person who cannot bear dullness and loves fun and novelty.


Will she find dancing boring some day? Rolling her mischievous eyes, Yau answers half jokingly and half seriously, “Maybe.”



If she doesn’t dance, what would she want to do? The imaginative choreographer talks about numerous possibilities, as though each possibility is like changing the color of a wig. “Farming is alright. Maybe baking bread is more suitable. People say that I have got a strong arm for dancing. I can make breads of various tastes, shapes, and textures every day. I can also participate in charity walks like the Walks for Millions, if I do not dance.”


There are countless possibilities for Yau, is there something that she absolutely doesn’t want to?


“I hope not to be intoxicated with the thought that ‘my creation is really intriguing’ one day. If I am blindly interested in my works and enjoy them obstinately, I will probably lose the unknown I seek.”


From dawn till dusk, we walk on a highway, pass through a flyover, and take a detour, finally arriving at our destination after five hours: the Boundary Street in Prince Edward. Standing before the historic boundary of the city, we together feel the condition of our muscles and blood after a long period of exercise, and recall what Yau has said at the starting point: “I love working. I get a great sense of accomplishment through working, as it is a way I make on my own. My exhausted body and achievements are real. And because they are real, I find the work worthwhile.”


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