Review- So Low- Jockey Club New Arts Power


By Rhian Widdowson



I’ll admit, I’m not always the biggest fan of solo pieces of work. I often find them never-ending, time filling performances. This is the first solo I have ever seen (, and I’ve seen a fair few,) that kept me engaged and not watching the clock. 


This solo is both choreographed and performed by Lai Tak-wai, an independent choreographer, dancer and dance teacher. He’s a graduate from Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, then furthering his studies at the Conservatoire de Paris. His technical ability is clear from the first moment he begins to move. His lines, his execution, is nearing on perfection. Even if this solo had been filled with lacking choreography (which it wasn’t), I would’ve enjoyed purely for Lai Tak-wai being the performer and such a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing dancer. 


‘So Low’ has the running theme of time and being weighed down and oppressed by it, something that everyone, I feel, who is living in Hong Kong can relate to. The piece begins in darkness, with a small stream of light coming from a corner. Lai Tak-wai is gradually revealed and begins moving slowly yet intentionally, almost feral like. The music slowly fills the room, gets louder and louder, which I interpreted as an alarm. A tall, thin, what appears to be wooden pole becomes visible. You can tell the importance of the pole by how in awe Tak-wai is of it. He begins dancing with the intensity building, whilst continuously being pulled towards the wooden pole, or as my friend said ‘playing with his wood’. There are a constant ebb and flow relationship between Tai-wai and the pole, the frustration and strain becoming more and more visible. The music then hits a crescendo and the pole falls on him dramatically, pinning him down. 


The use of media in this solo was absolutely genius. It was original, interesting and added to the performance. Panels are revealed at the back of the stage. Tak-wai stares at the panels and the videos and images projected. They begin to show videos as if travelling in a car and train along with images where you can see time is passing by. 


Then this is where it gets interesting, and I highly recommend seeing this performance. As a description of this section, the solo won’t be able to convey the intricacy of the movement, timing and connection between the dancer and projections. Tak-wai begins dancing between the panels and then it’s as if he has opened up new doors. He then begins dancing in canon with himself. A video of his body dancing is projected on the panels as if he is being joined by other dancers. The choreography means that the real Tak-wai and the projections of him dance together, passing movement on and working together as a group. 


Tak-wai is drawn back the pole and after what appears to be a ‘fight’ with the pole, in which the pole once again wins and crushes him to the ground yet again, he then begins walking in circles with the pole weighing down on top of him. The more circles he takes, the lower down to the ground he goes. The lights go down and the pole is highlighted in the middle of the room, standing alone with no support. Tak-wai moves away from it slowly. 


There are many interpretations possible of this piece, or perhaps even none at all. With or without emotions this piece in engaging, original, and as I have said before, beautifully danced. I would personally watch anything that Tak-wai performs in. 


This production has now closed. 






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