dance review

Red Poppies review – A Junction of Theatrics, Cultural Heritage, and Dance

Building a surge of intensity with the sound of Tibetan Longhorns and powerfully percussive beats, Red Poppies reveals a wealth of cultural heritage and dance through a theatrical performance.

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Making its fourth run in Hong Kong, this collaboration project between Hong Kong Dance Company and Sichuan Province Song and Dance Theatre Company adapts a traditional Tibetan tale written by Alai into a dance drama.

Depicting the story of a ruling family torn by power and ethics, this epic dance drama pairs cultural traditions with a timeless story that poses relevance to our world today.

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At first, the movements choreographed by Liu Lingli appear to be unfamiliar to our everyday understanding of modern-day dance vocabulary, occupied by crouched postures, wide boisterous stances and large waddling strides. Overtime, spectacular turns, swift jumps, and flips begin to catch our eyes. Creating the perfect timeline for story development, Red Poppies blends drama, love and morals into a full-length evening performance.

Just like binge watching a Netflix series, a viewer cannot help but become totally absorbed into this world. Settling into this storyline crafted by dynamic movements, gestures, songs by Liang Zhongqi, text by Bai Xiaochuan, and extravagant props and sets, the performance takes various loops and turns.

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Regardless of whether or not a dance drama may be your cup of tea, the costume and set design in itself is worth witnessing. Designed by Cui Binghua, the costumes were so vibrant and lush with various layers, embellishments and intricate details. Watch out Fashion Week 2020! Truly an all or nothing set & props designer, Zhang Jiwen brings pure brilliance with the raining effect of wheat kernels that fall from the ceiling, creating a scenic backdrop.

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Hong Kong Dance Company’s very own Huang Lei danced with such strength, presence and commitment to his role of Chieftain Maichi. Lei embodied his character down to every detail, gesture and mannerism. The contrasting roles of the stark and stoic Elder Son and the klutzy but kind Younger Son were matched perfectly. A villainous performance was made by Zhu Zhuoran of Hong Kong Dance Company as he took on the role of the Elder Son. The Younger Son of this brother duo was performed by Pei Zihao of Sichuan Song and Dance Theatre Company. Bringing fire and finesse to the stage was the beautiful Tana, performed by Zhao Xiaojing of Sichuan Song and Dance Theatre Company. The pairing of these dance artists from two dance companies made for an exciting performance.

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Red Poppies is a junction for theatrics, cultural heritage, dance, music and art. Forming a new appreciation and understanding for art and culture, this was truly an outstanding performance!

Photo credits: Tony Lee & Henry Wong

Hong Kong’s Diversity in Dance: A Review of Dance Highlights 2019

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Hong Kong Dance Moms debuted its first annual dance showcase, Dance Highlights 2019! It was amazing to see our dance community come together and contribute to such a successful show! This year we featured many amazing talented dance groups and studios across Hong Kong and amongst a vast array of dance styles! Who knew that our city had such a vibrant palette of diversity, talent, art, and culture?

Here to give you the lowdown on these two evenings of performances, is our roundup review! Our emcees, Benny Mok and Reggie Yip did a fantastic job at delivering a bilingual script to host the show. But now I’ll be taking over as your host here on this stage of letters, paragraphs and punctuation marks. House lights out please!

Bringing Dance Education to the Forefront

This year, we focused on dance education amongst youth, to give Hong Kong’s young dancers more opportunities to perform on stage. To get into the spotlight, our 29 selected dance groups and studios had to audition amongst 50 other applicants for a chance to perform in a theatre venue with full technical production and lighting support at no expense.

With over 300 performers this year, Dance Highlights showcased a diverse range of age groups and dance styles!

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Give me that Good ol’ Pizzazz, with some Jazz

With intricate formations and energetic moves, the jazz dancers kept the audience on their toes! Not to mention the variety of eye-catching costumes which were all cutely classy and sassy. There were split leaps and striking moves that would make Mr. Bob Fosse himself proud. More importantly, these dancers brought such personality and character to their performances!

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Make way for Ballet

Making their pointe, the ballet dancers in our show ranged from little ballerina bubbles to sophisticated young bunheads. There were many bold and sophisticated movements that were perfectly matched by the beauty of classic tutus.

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Movement for the Soul

Expanding on our mission for inclusivity and branching out to a wider spectrum of dancers, we invited a lovely group of dancers from a special needs dance troupe, who reminded us that dance is for everyone. With all the passion and power to fill up the stage, this dancing group was all about the love of movement!

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The Charm of Chinese Dance

We saw beautiful Chinese Dances that brought a world of culture and heritage to the stage. The dancers created such intricate dance formations and patterns with movements that looked as delicate as the China in my grandmother’s cabinet!

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Stop! It’s Hip-Hop Time!

In the words of MC Hammer, “Can’t touch this!” as these hip-hop dancers were on fire!

There was some dynamite dancing from our various urban dance groups, who served up a buffet of styles to the stage, including breaking and hip-hop. These young dancers brought the beat and danced with so much power!

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Lovely in Latin

Dancing with sharp accents and quick maneuvers, the Latin dance groups created an intensely energizing ambience with their fierce precision. We even saw a new take on traditional ballroom dance costumes and music, with flashy turquoise jumpsuits and tunes we could sing to in the shower.

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Cool as a Cucumber with Contemporary Dance

There were many great contemporary dance pieces in which dancers demonstrated such maturity and commitment beyond their years. Dancing together as a group is not easy at all, as it requires teamwork. We had many dancers with synchronicity that was absolutely sublime.

In a heart-pacing performance, our invited professional guest artists, Ivan Chan and Pansy Lo transported us all to a new time and space with their fluid storytelling and virtuosic movements. Within this contemporary performance titled Losing Soul, the dancing duo combined cinematic scenes with sensitively timed partnering, filling the stage with sheer intensity.

The Ultimate Thank you!

We here at Hong Kong Dance Moms truly appreciate all the time, devotion and passion that everyone contributed to Dance Highlights 2019. A big thank you to all the participating performers, our supportive readers, the audience, and our staff at Hong Kong Dance Moms!

Feeling inspired and ready to bust a move? Be sure to check out our featured video of Dance Highlights on Instagram and Facebook! And maybe we’ll see you on stage at next year’s Dance Highlights 2020? Better start warming-up!

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Hong Kong Dance Company: "NEON" Review

(c) Hong Kong Dance Company

(c) Hong Kong Dance Company

Just a day before the month of June has ended, the Hong Kong Dance Company (HKDC) puts a different kind of flavour in their show. HKDC as we all know does mainly Chinese dance, however, this time they did a very contemporary piece called, “Neon” which was quite experimental and has been very much interesting.

Performed in a black box theatre, with a very close audience was definitely already something very different from what we are so used to---seeing them in a big theatre in traditional costumes and dances.

Neon was conceptual.

The way the dancers moved was so abstract and at some parts experimental as it was also quite improvisational.

The performance transitioned to all different kinds of moods from only six dancers, a pianist, and a narrator. From a calm, peaceful beginning to an aggressive pas de six leading to an interactive performance as dancers gesture out to the audience to come and dance along or get their reaction as to what was going on----and the audience didn’t disappoint!

It was amazing that how minimal of a show it was, yet it brought out maximizing artistry of each artist on stage. These dancers connected very well with not only the audience.

It was also amazing how their interaction with each dancer and the set gave more justice to their roles and not to mention connecting to each change of mood.

Convincing, I’d say.

It was compelling in how each artists' portrayal of role has been done in a very natural way. Again, I’d say it was a total performance. As it may not have been a technically driven kind of performance, yet, high in artistic quality---total performance.

I’m sure we are all tired of seeing contemporary pieces showing trick after trick after trick. Neon was has been a greatly persuasive, and satisfying rendering of adaptation by these young talented dancers and definitely genius conceptualization.

Not only was it myself who enjoyed the show, but the audience as well---obviously as they did a great job responding to everything that has been delivered.

All in all, it was a captivating audio-visual performance that brought a lot of fun and at the same time instilling a somewhat mystifying humour. A different kind of genre from what Hong Kong Dance Company has not been disappointing to see.




 

 

 

Hong Kong Dance Company: Dreams of the Past: Ancient Chinese Court Dances Review

(c) Tony Lee

(c) Tony Lee

For three years of living in Hong Kong, why did I only see the Hong Kong Dance Company perform now? I can’t believe I have missed so much in the past three years, but I am glad to finally have seen  them over the weekend, performing “Dreams of the Past:Ancient Chinese Court Dances”.

I have always been interested and loved history, but one of the few I have always found so interesting was the Chinese culture. Seeing HKDC’s performance was such a graceful flashback of history through dance---all with a story to tell.

So here are a few favorites from all the nine dance numbers the company has performed:

Chu-Style Waist Dancing

(pre-Qin Dynasty)

(c) Henry Wong

(c) Henry Wong

According to legend, Duke Ling of the Chu dynasty fancied women with a slender waist, which seemed to set off a trend. Sheer with wizardry and spirits it seemed like these group of performers and technical crew have pulled it off quite well.

As curtains rose, a foggy and somehow eerie set was displayed. In perfect inclination of the dancers’ costume and headpiece that moved smoothly and enchantingly with each whip of their movements. Each back bend, spin, and glide on the floor seemed to give the very eye-catching headpiece a life of its own.

This dance I should say is really one of those really memorable ones of all. From the dancer’s technique, synchronicity and costumes and set giving the Chu kingdom justice as to how it has been described of its rituals and celebration of spirits.

Small Victory Dance

(Tang Dynasty)

(c) Crystal Kwok

(c) Crystal Kwok

Highly climactic, savage, yet remaining elegant.

As a dance created with female dancers in battle at the same time showing off their feminine charms----or what I would like to describe in the now as, “femme fatale”.

Perhaps of all dances, this seemed to be the most technical and most applauded for the dancers countless and fierce but smooth series of turns. But not only that was what made this piece amazing, instead, it was the whole personality of the dance itself, which I think each dancer has brought off perfectly.

Spring Excursion

(Wei-Jin Southern and Northern Dynasties)

(c) Stephen Yau

(c) Stephen Yau

Creating rhythm as the feet hobbles the floor, and wherein singing and dancing was such a common thing for the Han people, to have interpreted in a dance has been flawlessly carried out by the company’s talented dancers.  

Light, sophisticated and classic is how I found this dance to be----this would definitely be my favourite of all dances.

With quite a number of dancers on stage, it is definitely difficult to maintain togetherness, as if one would make a mistake or miss a single note, it will throw everyone else off; but this went smoothly. And there’s nothing more impressive like a company moving in sync

The lighting and set design went perfectly well with the costume’s tender hues and dancers elegant movements. To have ended the first half of the performance, it was truly as if being conveyed to ancient China.

Overall, I do think that this was a very interesting and informative performance by the HKDC---Chinese culture at its finest, in a form of dance. Definitely, a memorable performance that was cultural and refined, at the same time giving us a tad bit of history to look back on and appreciate.