Review-IndepenDANCE Taiwan-CCDC


By: Stephanie Ip


Continuing to celebrate their 35th anniversary, the City Contemporary Dance Company invited artistic director of MeimageDance Ho Hsiao-mei and her team from Taiwan to bring three new works to Hong Kong audiences. The three performances were delightful to watch and the dancers’ skills superb. All three dance performances explored different themes and it was refreshing to see the different interpretations and influences of our Taiwanese counterparts, even if I didn't always make the connection.


The first piece, ‘Black Box’, was choreographed and performed by Lee Chen-wei. It was a poignant and captivating work, made extra special with heavy audience participation. I’ve seen plenty of audience participation in theatre works but dance performances not so much. Lee did this cleverly, from having an audience member wind up a music box to provide music and another with a torch to provide a spotlight, to providing water guns filled with coloured water for two audience membrs to shoot at her. The work succeeded in exploring the different aspects of black box theatre but, if there was a political message behind the work or an exploration of truth, I did not see it. The program notes - ‘Let’s look for the black box together to find out the truth!’ - did not help much.


The second piece, ‘Hands’, was my least favourite. Choreographed by Chang Lan-yun and Luo Fan, the work explores the theme of loneliness and was inspired by Chang’s own move to Sweden and her difficulty in adapting to life there. Chang explained how hand gestures are an important part of connecting with people but most of the time people focus on expressions more than hands. She also observed that we use our hands to touch other people all the time but we rarely use our hands to touch ourselves. I thought the inspiration behind the piece was indeed interesting and the dance was entertaining but I failed to see how hands were the main focus in the performance nor how hands related to loneliness. 


Following the two solo acts, the third piece, ‘Camouflage’, is an ensemble choreographed by Ho Hsiao-mei.The work was split into two sections, almost like a first and second act of a typical play. Lee Chen-wei returns as one of the dancers, along with Chen Ying-chih, Huang Yu-teng and Lee Tsung-hsuan. I enjoyed this performance very much, my only criticism being, again, that I don’t  see the theme reflected in the dance. The theme was camouflage, about people putting up a facade, and living life under a pretense. The second part of the performance fitted the theme: two of the dancers take dinner at table seemingly peacefully while two other dancers shadow them, revealing their alternate emotions. While I enjoyed the first part very much, it seemed to fit more into a theme of remembrance: a girl falls asleep on top of a huge pillow (the three other dancers) and subsequently connects with all their hands, feet and heads. The dance ends with the other dancers encasing the girl under them, as if her memories had overcome her and dragged her under. 


Overall, these Taiwanese dancers are truly skilled and their dances innovative and original. I just wish the themes could be reflected more clearly in their performances. 


IndepenDANCE Taiwan is playing as part of the City Contemporary Dance Festival. It is playing through December 14th. For more information, click here.



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dance, review, hongkong

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