Monday, June 18, 2012

REVIEW: TRIPTYCH by the City Contemporary Dance Company of Hong Kong

Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium, Friday June 15

Deliberately, I didn’t read through the program beforehand. All I know is that it has something to do with the CCDC and as the title suggested, I expected to see 3 dance pieces. Little did I know that in fact, the evening was composed of three distinct pieces by three different dance companies from three different cities. The evening started off with Liu Qi’s Voice After. Thinking that I was looking at CCDC, my first impression was that the company was distinctively younger and has improved technically. It was only during intermission that I realized that it was the Guangdong Modern Dance Company that I have just saw. With music of Paul Dresher, Voice After started with much of the choreography done very close to the floor; and with the silver/gray costume and turquoise side lighting, created some of the best imagery of the evening. While there was a clear display of symmetry and asymmetry, engagement and disengagement; and individualism and collectivism, the language was undeniably Chinese. Aside from a few short moments where the Company was not in one with the music, this piece proves to be the best in the evening.

The second piece was the piece that prompted me to check out the program immediately. The language and style were very un-CCDC; and true enough, it was the BeijingDance/LDTX. Having said that, Li Hanzhong & Ma Bo’s First Ritual with easily recognized music of Tan Dun’s Orchestral Theatre II: Re (not very different from the style of Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera), actually reminded me of Villain Hitting (Da Siu Yan or 打小人), Villain Hitting is a popular folk sorcery practice in Hong Kong where older ladies are hired to curse one’s enemies. It must be because of the several cardboard mannequins on stage that the dancers manipulate all throughout the work. Dancers also made use of big bowls of water (once again reminiscent of Ghost Opera) to wash off the paints that they have ritually smeared on the mannequins. Visually, the choreography slid in and out of being dramatic and melo-dramatic, pretty much what one expects from a Beijing dance company.

Finally, it made sense. The third piece was Mui Cheuk-yin’s The Tale of Miles, a distinctively CCDC piece which I will say tends to be rich in concept but less rich in execution. The music of Steve Reich provided a colorful palette for a monochromatic dance. The use of luggage trolley of different sizes was beautiful except that it was not used more creatively. Most of the time, I feel that the luggage were hampering the piece rather than enhancing it. Some of the finer moments were the kaleidoscopes of dancers coming in and out riding their luggage. Less successful was the ceremonious piling up of the luggage just to be later on ceremoniously removed… it totally reminded me of some of the most pretentious and self-absorbed performance art I have seen.

Overall, the total sum was bigger than its part. The evening provided a true triptych glimpse of three companies from three different cities striving to find a distinct voice in modern dance.


A Trilogy of Modern Dance with three acclaimed modern dance companies led by Willy Tsao
15-16.6.2012 (Fri-Sat) 8pm
Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium
$250 / $180 / $140

Guangdong Modern Dance Company
Voice After
Choreography: Liu Qi
Music: Paul Dresher
Set & Lighting: Alexander V. Nichols

First Ritual
Choreography: Li Hanzhong & Ma Bo
Music: Tan Dun Orchestral Theatre II: Re
Lighting: Godzilla Tan
Costumes: Jun, Patti, Frank of Beijing Xinlingxiu Costume Design Studio

City Contemporary Dance Company
The Tale of Miles
Choreography: Mui Cheuk-yin
Music: Kung Chi-shing
Set and Costumes: Charfi Hung
Video: Adrian Yeung

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At June 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM , Anonymous HT said...

I wonder how you do it, write something about such a difficult evening, kudos mate! I still find the audience's response or lack of more interesting than the work itself. Kudos to the dancers but 2nd and 3rd piece were hard to sit through....


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