We sometimes forget that some of the most remarkable dance performances are those performed by student dancers. Don’t let the idea of a “student” fool you, as the most rigorous training a dancer will ever go through in their lifetime is during their years in school.
Kicking off the 35th Anniversary Academy Festival at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts was the School of Dance Spring Performances. The students from Ballet, Chinese and Contemporary Dance streams demonstrated virtuosic technique, a fresh breath of artistry and the pure passion of young professional performers. Through a programme of four contrastingly stunning works of dance, performance, theatre and art, The School of Dance reminds us to be curious, imaginative and creative.
Opening the show was a dance piece titled, Red Fan. Choreographed by Xing Liang, this work explores the space of dreams where endless possibilities unfold. Performed by the Chinese Dance stream students who moved with such versatility, this work seamlessly blends classical Chinese dance with contemporary configurations. Xing Liang’s clever transitions that linked one dancer’s movement into another’s, contributed to this continuous engagement that captivated its viewers to study each and every detail. Liang transported the audience through various realms of reverie, filled with meditative sounds of Paul Yip’s live musical accompaniment and images of vibrant red fans and a cool midnight moon. This was a dream in which one could not close their eyes.
Continuing with this streamline of contrasting images, sounds, and movements was a contemporary ballet piece choreographed by Jonathan Watkins. His work titled, Osmosis shares a conglomerate of musical influences and movements through the performance of the Ballet stream students. The dancers were like scattered puzzle pieces, connecting, disconnecting and reconnecting themselves into harmonious and sometimes disjunct lines and shapes. Osmosis connected the stage with the mind of viewers, by creating a space for the audience to think and reconfigure new meanings and understandings of ballet.
Feeding into the end of the intermission, gradually pulling the audience away from their mobile phones was Rick Nodine’s work, Breath Sounds 3.0. Subtly building momentum of movement and breathe were the Contemporary Dance stream students who grabbed the audience’s attention as a collective group rather than as individuals. On the stage were 20 microphones hanging from the ceiling, in which 20 dancers each placed themselves under to create a live soundtrack. Moving through variations of breathing together, separately and in different group patterns, these human metronomes fed into the bodies of the audience. As a viewer, or in this instance a participant, one could not help but be conscious of their own breathe in connection with the performers. Rick Nodine’s ingenuity for bridging the performer to the audience through our bodies was effectively inventive. Allowing the audience access to the stage by bringing complexity and simplicity together in one space and time.
To conclude the programme, was a celebratory work that showcased the numerous talents and personalities of the Ballet, Chinese and Contemporary Dance streams. Choreographed by Anh Ngoc Nguyen, Eye highlights the unique qualities of the graduating dance majors and merges them together into a colourful work of exuberance and great achievements. The growth of a dancer is one of the most exciting things to witness, as they develop their skills and artistry to make their mark in this world! As our future dancers are crafting their careers, it inspires us all to embark on our own journey of growth and experience regardless of our individual stages in life.
Photos: Dance Students performing in The School of Dance Spring Performances. Photos provided by The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.