Monday, 1 June 2009

Everlasting Love

Bit of culture for the weekend – I dragged Ross to an HK Dance Company performance called “Everlasting Love” – a reimagining of tradition Chinese folklore love stories. The theme revolves around a central character, of indeterminate era, who is struck by how these traditional stories are still relevant and have continued to evolve – after all, love stories are pretty universal. I think Ross was right to be skeptical about it. The dance was immaculately performed (or at least looked it, to my untrained eye), the costumes were by turns beautiful or ragged, and the music was, well, Chinese. Somehow the “story” felt rather incoherent. Each love story, with a theme such as “Encounter” was presented in a series of vignettes, some of which were faaaar too long. Towards the end the music, costumes and the number of dancers on stage at once conspired to make it all a bit “Les Miserables”. I don’t think that was what they were aiming for.

The really astonishing thing is the late comers. It’s no secret that everyone is always late in HK (sweeping generalizations, moi?!) but this takes the biscuit. 5 minutes into the performance, at what they call an appropriate break, the house lights come up, and another 30 or 40 people come in. They chat a bit, rustle some stuff and settle in, before the performance starts again. I’d say this has happened at about 60% of the dance performances I’ve been to. It’s a tad distracting.

We’ve seen a few performances here now – of the contemporary ones, the two that I’ve enjoyed most are The White Body by Ea Sola, and an Outdoor Dance Gala by Helen Lai, performed by the City Contemporary Dance Company.

The White Body was very moving, and affecting, because somehow the message was clear enough for me to see and understand, but not patronizingly obvious. It was also extremely well performed, with music which perfectly reflected what was happening. The combination of high energy dance and music is pretty hard to resist!

I enjoyed The Outdoor Dance Gala partly because there’s not a lot of outdoor art here, so it was good to see that it is possible, and partly because it was hard to watch. The dancers were performing on the piazza outside the Cultural Centre in TST; it’s just a paved area near the harbor front. It was a very physical performance, with lots of flying bodies, hard impacts and noise. The risks and potential injuries kind of challenge what you expect from dance. In fact, the actual injuries do too. Being so close to the performers, you can see the grazes and scrapes gathered along the way.

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