Performance at Kwun Tong Promenade; Photo provided by HKADC
In early November of 2018, a series of images with a huge silvery ball popped up in social media and caught my eyes. This series was the promotional image for Chloe Wong’s new piece, Maybe Tomorrow. Over three months, those shiny rocks have been rolling again and again in town, at two secondary schools, four universities and in 25 shows in public areas.
The concept of the moving stone is based on the Greek myth, Sisyphus. Maybe Tomorrow is built around five dancers pushing their shiny rocks of different sizes and being pushed by others’ rocks. Before the performance begins, dancers roll the balls around the performance area; during the performance, one or two large silvery balls are set outside the performance area. Pedestrians are welcome to interact with these balls. Indeed, these huge silvery balls are popular among children. The children are energetic and excited to roll these balls forward. Comparatively, the dancers are more unwilling to push these stones.
These shiny rocks reflect the environment and the dancers themselves. When the dancers are being pushed by the silver balls, it is not only that the balls push them physically, but also the “world” pushes them as well. Public places where performances took place included parks, promenade and even in the residential estate and commercial district like Central. As the energy is less concentrated in the public space, the female dancers’ movements in the piece are not projected enough.
Among the different environments, my favourite is the performance in Central, where the high rises along Chater Road create a feeling of constriction and reinforce the atmosphere on stage. Reflections are all around the stage, not only from the balls but also the masks on the dancers. One of the motif movements in the first half of the work is blaming and pointing to the reflections. When the dancers blame themselves, each other and the environment, the mirror images blame them at the same time. Dancers face their reflections and wander in their confusion.
Although people often refer to the myth of Sisyphus when talking about everlasting suffering and its meaning or meaninglessness, it is easy to overlook his love of fate (amor fati) at the end. Likewise, in the latter part of Maybe Tomorrow, the atmosphere turns from heavy to joyful after every dancer’s mask is taken off by other dancers. The silvery balls become toys for the dancers to play with. Dancers try to pose on top of the balls or even slide over two balls continuously. Although some tricks look exciting, it is still not as pure and cheerful as how children interact with these silvery balls before the performance begins.
Furthermore, this turn itself is somehow abrupt. Even the dancers are less stressful after the duet or quartet so that their masks were taken off. It is still a leap from the former part to the latter. The music does not help the transition of the atmosphere a lot. In Wong’s previous works, Moon Yip’s music often integrated well with the dance. Here, Moon takes the role of creative director, while the composer and music designer is Martin Lai. Lai’s music is more like the background music of different scenes and phrases, and the music cues lag behind the dynamic changes of the movements. If the game-like electronics tone of the latter joyful part comes in earlier, the music may help a smoother transition from the former to the last part.
Things are unexpected as in much of life. One of the dancers, Joycine Ho, was unable to continue touring midway because of a personal medical reason. Her role was replaced by Rain Chan. Chan originally shared the four-mask role with Kenny Leung. I hadn’t watched those shows in which Chan performed in the four-mask role. I found the piece with Chan picking up the new position more impressive. The duet between Kerry Cheung and Chan was shortened and became more concise, and Chan’s extended movements positively affected the projection of Cheung as well. When the latter part of the piece turned from a gloomy to a joyful atmosphere, Chan was the one who authentically played just like the kids. His presence critically influenced the energy levels of the latter part, compared to those performances that I watched without his appearance.
Wong’s work is always in dialogue with our city. While the social-political situation in our town is frustrating, we can only hope that the city will be better “Maybe Tomorrow”.
Performance at Lai Chi Kok Park; Photo provided by HKADC
M.Phil in Philosophy, specializing in Kant’s philosophy and aesthetics, a freelance writer and art administrator.
Choreographer: Chloe Wong
Performance: 21 November 2018 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 8 December 2018 Kwun Tong Promenade, 16 December 2018 Lai Chi Kok Park, 22 December 2018 Edinburgh Place, Central, 6 Janurary 2019 Pedestrian Street, Ice House Street and Chater Road, Central