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Dimensions of Community Dance as a Social Practice — Some Observations from Dance and Community Participatory Dance Projects in 2019

Yu Yeuk-mui Cally

Translator: Yoyo Chan

‘It’s very beautiful that we can complete something with the elderly together.’

── Lee Chun-yu Andy, choreographer and dance artist of community dance project Body in Time.


‘Learning about dance improvisation is a process of mutual learning.’

── Lo Suk-han Mimi, artistic director of Mimi LO Performing Arts Development Foundation.


Hong Kong has seen more community dance and community participatory dance projects in recent years. In the 2019 Community Cultural Ambassador Scheme, five out of twenty performing arts projects came with dance elements,[1] liberating the definition of dance and enriching the social significance of dance creations. However, little attention has been given to their values, practices, aesthetics, and dimensions of assessment. This essay strives to evaluate three community dance and community participatory dance projects as well as one cross-district cultural exchange scheme under the framework of ‘arts as social practice’. The discussion of these four projects in 2019 will be translated into four dimensions for assessment — spatial quality, aesthetic experience, horizontal learning, and structural changes.

Let’s start with the social context. Since the 1980s, the art circles in Europe and America have been taken over by a growing trend of ‘social turn’. Social scientists have also started a heated debate on ‘performance turn’ in the 90s. To understand the paradigm shifts, how these trends responded to the social and political-economic contexts are worth looking at. In addition, the ‘practice’ in ‘social practice’ is underpinned by a radical meaning. To Paulo Freire, pioneer of critical pedagogy and literacy advocate for Brazilian farmers and workers, practice can engineer revolution, which is ‘achieved with neither verbalism nor activism, but rather with praxis, that is, with reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed’ (Freire 2003, 171-172). Therefore, it is necessary to know what the subjects of concern and their structures are before action.

European and American artists have enthusiastically connected politics to aesthetics for more than four decades. They have used a variety of forms, such as socially-engaged art (which has yet to have a good Chinese translation), participatory art, collaborative art, dialogical creation, community art, communal art, performance art, conceptual art, new genre public art. All of them share certain characteristics — including dematerialisation, process-orientedness, time-boundedness, connection with daily life, local dialogue initiating, social bonds rebuilding — with a focus on bodily perception, participant engagement and political significance of collaboration.

These common characteristics precisely responded to the neoliberalism that began to intensify in the 1970s. Neoliberalism focuses on the privatisation of public services and properties, deregulation, and relaxation of the free market. The Hong Kong government’s principle of ‘small government, large market’, alongside the power of consumerist culture in the age of global capitalism, positions the market mechanism as the main logic of all values and makes individual freedom and consumption the thinking mechanism that dominates the world. Artists who are sensitive and critical of the times can hardly turn a blind eye to all the emerging social and cultural issues, such as cultural capitalisation, art commodification and institutionalisation, growing wealth gap, racial discrimination, gender inequality, environmental damage, and public space vanishing.

New genre public art, proposed by artist Suzanne Lacy in the 1990s, points out that public art should be different from traditional large sculptures and monuments. Public art should not care only about creative materials and media and should refuse to be incorporated into the market or institution (such as the gallery-collector-biennale-magazine system). It focuses on how to connect different local audiences in daily life. Dialogues and interactions are generated from the community to make direct intervention in social issues and to change the consciousness of participants and partner organisations (Lacy 1994). Her propositions lie in the social context of the time — racial discrimination, violence against women, cultural censorship, institutionalisation of art museums, commercialisation of art, ecological destruction, and the spread of AIDS. It rallies artists to reclaim the critical power of avant-garde art as well as the will to transform society.

Indeed, both artistic intervention and social practice are developed in a similar vein with avant-garde art. From the anti-war and anti-aesthetic Dadaism to the anti-rational Surrealism, to the Situationist tradition and guerrilla art action groups, they build political potential using negative force. Meanwhile, the new way of life and aesthetic experience built on the basis of community and dialogue develop into non-utilitarian relationships and contexts, echoing Nicolas Bourriaud’s temporary gatherings and situations (Bourriaud 1998). More directly is the purpose to mend the social bond and ‘rehumanise’ as proposed by Claire Bishop (Bishop 2006, 179-180).

So, how do all these relate to the community dance in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has upheld neoliberalism for years. The ‘small government’ has endeavoured to adhere to the ‘big market’ principle and defend the free market with full gusto, thereby widening the gap between the rich and the poor. According to official figures, the city’s poor population hit 1.491 million persons in 2019. The poverty rate at 21.4% meant one in five people living below the poverty line. The poor population remained as high as 0.642 million persons, with the poverty rate at 9.2% (HKSAR Government, 2019), even after policy intervention. Instead of improving the social welfare system and introducing universal retirement protection, the government blamed the poverty on social incidents and a sustained ageing trend. As people could only rely on themselves, community network, mutual communal support, reallocation and sharing of resources have become all the more important.

No doubt it is impossible to gain full knowledge of the creative consciousness and intent of every community dance artist, but it is clear that they have all wanted to do something for the community. For example, Siu Lung Fung Dance Theater strived to ‘bring arts closer to the public’[2] through the Community Cultural Ambassador Scheme in the hope to develop a sense of place. The workshops and rehearsals served to open up the participants’ senses to things and people around them and set foot in the community, which was the general direction of many community dance projects.

The idea to introduce people and resources into the community with arts as the anchor is closer to how the government and funding institutions position community art as a means of audience promotion. Hong Kong has long lacked any cultural policy or vision for cultural development. Officials have always adopted a marketing mentality born out of cultural utilitarianism. For example, the Community Cultural Ambassador Scheme — an audience-building activity under the Audience Building Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department — aims to attract potential audiences with its cultural investment and marketing. The clear goal is therefore entirely different from Jacques Rancière’s avant-garde radicalism of ‘art disappearing into life’.

If community dance creation is not only consisted of codified movements to represent some widely known social issues, but also of questions and reflections of the social conditions so as to establish community relations, propel conversations and promote systemic changes (including the dance itself and the local cultural ecology), I will examine the following cases from four dimensions: spatial quality, aesthetic experience, horizontal learning, and structural changes, which are interrelated between values, methods, and aesthetics.

Case Studies — Basic Information

【Cross-boundary cultural exchange grant】

1. ‘Acts of Commoning: HK — Thai cultural exchange project’

  • January 2019

  • Co-organised by Art for praXis (Hong Kong) and Asiatopia Foundation (Thailand)

【Community dance and community participatory dance scheme 】

 2. Everything That Rises Must Dance

  • March 2019

  • Co-produced with Complicité (U.K.)

  • Hong Kong Arts Festival @Tai Kwun

3. Body In Time

  • 2018 – 2020

  • Produced by Unlock Dancing Plaza

  • Tao Arts Sai Kung — Community Arts Scheme

4. Let Our Hearts Integrated By Dance

  • Extended from the workshops in 2019 

  • 2020 Community Cultural Ambassador Scheme

  • Hosted by Mimi Lo (Mimi LO Performing Arts Development Foundation)


However, before discussing community dance, the first and foremost question is: What is dance? As acclaimed dancer Anna Halprin says in her biographical documentary, ‘Dance is the breath made visible and covers about everything’ and ‘Dance does not have to be beautiful, it is simply part of life’.[3] If dance is how the body becomes aware of life, of environment and of the inner self, the move of dance does not necessarily have to be the most important, but is about ‘how they (the bodies) feel’ at the moment.

Two community dance artists, Lee Chun-yu Andy and Lo Suk-han Mimi, both emphasised in their interviews that the body is the language of communication. Lee, who started out in ballet, said, ‘I used to think that dance has a singular standard, that you need to have music and techniques. Now I believe the very basics of dance is the body. As long as you use your body to communicate, to share and enjoy with others, it is dance’. With the belief that everyone can dance, Lo said, ‘Dance is a kind of practice, a way to view yourself and the world. Zen in motion’. She also stressed that dance is ‘a group of people dancing’ and ‘a process of communication and exchange where partners and the bodies speak to each other’. In this light, the action is the message, the fact that people come and go is ladened with meanings. Yet the biggest difference between community dance and professional dance is that the former does not serve the purpose of performance but focuses on the communication for coordination. As inclusive community artist Petra Kuppers believes that community performances are ‘communally created’ (Kuppers 2007). There is no one to guide anyone, but only enough space and time for participants to identify the materials for expression. In this light, community dance asks dancers to set their professional identity and technical requirements aside. As time-based works rarely make a good sale, there is unsurprisingly a lack of attention from the industry, which will be further discussed in the following.

Dance uses the body in a way beyond language to directly connect with others, to initiate interactions between the physical and the psychological. In one of the experiences that have left a mark, I participated in the Hong Kong-Thai cultural exchange project ‘Acts of Commoning' curated by performance artist wen yau in January 2019. wen yau, visual artist Fong Wan-chi Vangi and I stayed in Nan province in northern Thailand for more than two weeks. Despite the language barrier, we spent time communicating with and learning from local women, most of whom farmed for a living, every day. I started developing trust with them and learning their dance. Though not a traditional folk dance, the dance similar to the moves seen in outdoor squares such as Para Para (the conception of aesthetics and why we accept the hegemonic thinking of western cultures still call for further thought) unlocked the possibility of interactions. We were then led into their daily lives, sharing their freest and most confident moments and exchanging laughter every day. wen yau, who believes in practising co-existence by ‘commoning’, offered an even more detailed explanation in her sharing. ‘Culture and arts, as an intangible (and infinite) way to share resources (or ‘‘cultural commons’’), can be disseminated through interactions between people. When adopting a certain existing form (such as a set of dance steps), each participant would adjust according to personal or social conditions and add their own thoughts and creativity (and not 100% exact replication). Cultural commons are then revitalised and ceaselessly multiplied during this process of dissemination. The so-called “social engagement” is also a process of commoning’.[4]

How can community dance projects create quality connections? I would analyse from four dimensions:


I. Spatial Quality

Community dance focuses on the sense of place, while community participatory dance focuses on the formation of subjectivity and connection. In any case, if there is no space, there will be no room for movement. If there is no space, there will not be any cradle for emotions, dialogue, stories, or memories. A quality space is not only physical, but also spiritual and emotional. In other words, the texture of space where the dance is performed determines the quality of exchange straight away. 

Past definitions of community and ‘the communal’ tend to draw on specific commonalities, such as residence location, age, hobby, nationality. That aside, sociologist Zygmunt Bauman's essay ‘Two Sources of Communalism’ is worth referring to. Suggesting that ‘the vision of community is a warrant of certainty, security and safety’ (Bauman 2001, 72), he also proposes an alternative angle to the essence of community — to promise precise certainty to individuals to protect their life and personal safety. These conditions are born precisely because individuals cannot survive on their own in a society where particles do not swarm.

Can community dance create such a space? Short-lived perhaps, but I think it is possible, if creators have enough awareness as well as corresponding means and resources. Resources are not limited to money, the location or size of the venue, or if it is a formal rehearsal room or a community hall. These are of course important, thus diligent administrative handlings such as clear instructions, smooth production flow, assembling and dispersing on time, as fair allocation of resources for participants are conditions that are assuring and deemed reliable. The creators’ awareness is undoubtedly of utmost importance, but the manager must establish the quality of the space from the very beginning, so that people can communicate with each other comfortably. Intersubjectivity is thus enhanced to ensure everyone involved is equal.

Take Everything That Rises Must Dance, a programme of the 2019 HKartsFestival@TaiKwun, as an example. British theatre company Complicité rallied 100 Hong Kong women of all ages and from all walks of life to create an emotional space together within the span of two weeks. Together, they danced for themselves and presented their intimate stories in a public space (Tai Kwun). How was it done?


One of the key factors was certainly their resources. The administrative arrangements have already played a huge part in the selection of participating performers. As most of them knew English and had brief dance experience, relatively few came from the grassroots. Yet, there was still a mix of locals and foreigners with an age difference as wide as thirty to forty years.

I myself was one of the participants who have witnessed how choreographer Sasha Milavic Davies stressed the aesthetics of mutual respect and of coexistence in diversity. She asked participants an important question — ‘Does it make sense?’ — before making every decision and rehearsed every score in a way that celebrated the beauty of every individual in a collective action. Davies also encouraged participants in different conditions with words like — ‘Confidence, personality, fearlessness of loss, full engagement, genuine movements, full completion. These are beauty in their own rights’. When it came to movement, she was not without requirements — ‘Size is small but the act is not’. The motto guides every dancer to build her confidence and appreciate the power and beauty of it. She also used daily movements to unlock the door to the inner self. Like when thinking of a gesture of face-touching — whose hand is it? Where is it situated? Some might immediately collapse in tears, but that was fine. Cry if you want, be sad as you wish — that’s respect and empathy.[5]

In addition to connecting with others, I have been engaging with the elderly through art activities for years. I understand that it is also important to provide participants with the options to ‘say no’, ‘remain silent’, ‘refuse learning’, and ‘refrain from connecting with others’. These aspects have posed a real test of their confidence in themselves and trust in other participants.

A quality community dance space is not designed for movement or rehearsal but is built for simple but hard-earned trust between people. It may even have nothing to do with the performance space or the audience. But being inside a space is a product in itself. In a time where autonomy is luxury, it becomes more precious indeed.        

II. Aesthetic Experience

Aesthetic experience is one of sensing and perceiving. It also provides a delicate time where the heart and the mind become one, where one can enjoy freedom. Aesthetics is also a social construct that can only be enjoyed under specific conditions. In his pivotal work On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters, German philosopher Friedrich von Schiller established that ‘[The] aesthetic alone is a whole in itself, since it combines within itself all the conditions of its origin and its continuance. Here alone do we feel left out of time’ (Schiller 1993, 149). The ideal condition of aesthetics allows the coexistence of contradictions. ‘If […] we have surrendered to the enjoyment of genuine beauty, we are at such a moment master in equal degree of our passive and our active powers, and we shall with equal ease turn to seriousness or to play, to repose or to movement, to compliance or to resistance, to the discussions of abstract thought or to the direct contemplation of phenomena’ (149). Rancière also often describes the condition of aesthetics as ‘suspension’, which is different from daily life, inconclusive and full of uncertainties. 

What kind of aesthetic experience does community dance give to people in the community? This is a very crucial question — is the completion of one community performance just for bringing arts into the community? The dance artists in charge must have a clear idea about the value of aesthetics before they can choose an appropriate way for community interventions. Ideas should come before actions.


Andy Lee asked when he was interviewed, ‘Does beauty lie in how people in the community can truly express themselves? Or in the joint efforts of people working together towards one goal? Or in presenting a performance packed with great visuals? While all these could be right, my focus is on how amateurs in the community can use their bodies to express themselves frankly’. ‘You decide how you approach different people in the community. Do you exercise social practice by teaching or communication? They can be very different’.

Mimi Lo, campaigner for DanceAbility and ‘Everyone Can Dance’ said, ‘What we do is not necessarily for a community or confined to a community, but for crossing the boundaries between people’. To me, her team strives to demonstrate the beauty of the coexistence of differences.  ‘Everyone is different. It’s just normal. The difference lies not only between ordinary people and the disabled, but also between ordinary people’. Through understanding this difference and embracing the difference in body and capacity, the hierarchy is thus eradicated. No one is more beautiful than another. They just see each other and learn together.

She chooses contact improvisation as her method, ‘Every decision I make at the moment makes me understand myself better’. How to transform personal ‘weaknesses’ into something beautiful with unique characteristics is the aesthetic value of improvisation. Lo’s production has four dance rooms: DanceAbility/ ContaKids/ Contact Improvisation/ Somatic Research. The purpose is neither to be therapeutic nor empowering, but to allow dancers to enjoy every moment of ‘dancing together’, of reconciling with themselves, and of progressing with a clear mind. One acknowledges how to handle difficulties, scarcity, and pain in a calm state. And the beauty, feelings, and effects from the process can be very therapeutic because of listening, understanding and support that come to pass, or because of the feeling of empowerment from solid affirmation of oneself. But healing is not intrinsic to contact improvisation, which takes root in self-enhancement, learning to communicate with the body as well as making every decision autonomously.

Such interpretation of aesthetics is no doubt vastly different from that of traditional academia, but it echoes with the ‘distribution of the sensible’ stressed by Rancière, which is a perception different from daily life, allowing what are suppressed out of mind and out of sight to resurface and be seen by others and assuring oneself.

Lo noted it was hard to find a partner who could fully understand her. The lead dancer ‘can not only bring her emotions and pain in without being ready to communicate. You can choose to rest, but when you are back, you should be ready to enter a body sheerly and particularly for exchanging messages’. A professional dancer said she was willing to participate, attended one rehearsal and patted her on the shoulder as a show of support, then turned around and left. She added, ‘As long as you understand that differences are essential, you don't need any special skills to make it work’.

In this light, the aesthetic experience of community dance not only corresponds to the social context, but also breaks the emphasis on techniques strictly required in traditional dance training and the conventional definition of physical beauty. The two should not be compared and placed in a hierarchy, as they are fundamentally different artistic perspectives and requirements. However, ordinary people and some practitioners in the dance field often think that community dance is just for professional dancers to have fun with amateurs out of kindness. Such a view overlooks the difference between community dance and performance-oriented projects, which the latter do not have the same energy from the unique beauty built on personal resources (including a body that is labelled disabled).

III. Horizontal Learning 

Workshops and rehearsals are common in community dance projects, including those discussed in this essay. Because of the educational elements, there are questions on how to and what to teach, but not much attention has been given to the pedagogy and the learning preferences of project participants. 


Does community dance aim to pass the techniques of professional dancers onto amateurs? Or to temporarily train up different bodies for a performance? Or is it a collaboration of mutual learning and process of experience exchange? Would the ‘amateur’ identity of participants determine the project’s subject-object relation? Would it risk blowing the trumpet of arts by further exaggerating the ‘ignorance’ of the ‘disadvantaged’ community members?

In his landmark work The Emancipated Spectator, Rancière cites ‘The Ignorant Schoolmaster’ story of Joseph Jacotot as an inspiration (Ranciere 2011, 1). To assert his own authority, the schoolmaster keeps feeding ‘higher’ knowledge to the students, so as to constantly confirm the ‘inequality of intelligence’ with more ignorance. According to Rancière, ‘this endless confirmation is what Jacotot calls “stultification”’ (9). Instead, the headmaster should not teach his knowledge to his pupils. He should compel them to venture into the forest of knowledge and make their own intellectual adventures by translating what they already know into words and signs, by understanding their own ignorance and learning how to learn. 

While all knowledge should be equal, Rancière notes that the ‘distribution of the sensible’ is hierarchical due to people’s social positions and their capacities to impact perceptions. Therefore, if community dance participants only learn a set of dance steps without finding a way to express themselves with their bodies, they can harvest nothing apart from joining a dazzling show or enjoying a fun party. It would then fail to reshuffle the ‘distribution of the sensible’ for perceptual exploration and the gulf between arts and knowledge would then remain the same.

Once dance is used as a social practice to push for intellectual equality, the body then serves as a means of intervention that assures participants of the possibilities and creative potential of their bodies. Managers of the three projects studied in this essay all focused on the method of pedagogy. Everything That Rises Must Dance revolved around building a female community where dance captains took turns to share various dance forms (such as ballet, K-Pop, contemporary dance) and facilitate the experience of different dance languages. Without a domineering standard, participants would mirror and massage one another. Most of the moves came from participants’ own lives and their daily observations. But as the participants were vetted by the organiser, most of them had a preliminary knowledge of dance, meaning they were no strangers to expressing themselves via body movement and getting in the creative groove.

Situation is a bit different when the participants are the elderly. The gap does not only exist in age and experiences, but also the established expectations for performance as well as for conventional dance techniques. Also, because they have been marginalised for a long time, they tend to lack confidence in themselves, saying they knew nothing. That is why more time was needed to boost their confidence in themselves and their bodies. Under a more relaxing framework, they could fully enjoy dancing. Dance was not about techniques, but the joy of expressing themselves and exploring the world. As Andy Lee and the Unlock Dancing Plaza team placed the senior participants at the centre of the workshop design, they considerably apply daily movements to unlock the elderlies’ senses, such as telling their own stories through colours, chairs or dialling a phone number. As an instructor of Chinese vocabularies, I tried to turn daily life into poetry. For instance, how to describe three minutes if we tell time using elements of daily life? The senior participants would answer ‘enjoy a sweet’, ‘follow a migratory bird’, ‘understand a person’, ‘recall a romance’, ‘give a friend a phone call’. On the one hand, we hope they could look back at life through writing; on the other, we are also allowed to better understand their living conditions. To get along with each other on an equal footing and to learn from each other, a certain understanding of their friends in the community, including their specific and individual daily and mental conditions, is a must. Afterall, a community is full of diversity and changes.

Therefore, community art is not something that delivers immediate results. Several workshops within a month are not enough for artists and participants to understand each other, or for them to come up with methods and paths to bridge the past with current experiences, or to create works with subjectivity.

IV. Structural Changes

Addressing the institutionalisation and commercialisation of arts in the 90s, Mary Jane Jacob establishes that the quality of community art depends on the change occurring in the audience (Jacob 1994, 58). The expansion of audience demographics, through departing from the elite class, would lead to more diversified and proactive pioneering power of arts. It was the situation in Europe and the U.S. in the 90s. Interestingly, museums and establishments of different scales turn to admit community art into the systems nowadays, placing it in the framework of arts education, marketing campaign, audience expansion, or even social investments to whitewash social harmony. 

Is changing the audience one of the directions of ‘towards structural transformation’?

This is really not easy. When I watched Let Our Hearts Integrated by Dance, a cultural ambassador project hosted by Mimi Lo at Ko Shan Theatre New Wing, wheelchair users, children and parents bouncing spontaneously around on stage clearly did not have many rehearsals. I could not help but wonder at the auditorium: Why put improvisational performance on stage? Why not leave the creative process in the rehearsal room? Why has music, instead of the subjectivity of the dancers, dominated the movement? What about their personalities? How can I get to know the dancers who are so far away from where I sit? The post-performance photo exhibition did not even include the names of the dancers. My requirements become quite different once a performance is moved onto a large standard stage.      

I brought up the questions I had in mind in my interview with Lo. Her answers were interesting: Isn’t it the beginning of a dialogue once the audience members have doubts? Or is a voice, a reflection of what a performance is? The lack of rehearsal time is of course because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, ‘it also reflects the fact that improvisation and community dance also need time and resources. This is the outcome without sufficient conditions, which is also a way to educate the audience’. Perhaps that is the case. How can the audience be inspired to directly participate in the thinking process, apart from post-performance discussion with performers? This is what many stunning participatory performances want to experiment — how can the creative form transform passive consumption into active collaboration?

Bishop points out in her article that many community arts projects, including Bourriaud’s claim for relational aesthetics, are not radical enough, as they want participants to feel good rather than do good (Bishop 2004, 51-79). She slams that the ‘relation’ developed under the framework of a museum or theatre stage does not have much weight, given its goal to build a harmonious society. Such a goal can neither present the diversity and complexity of the issues nor enhance the critical thinking ability of the participants. Of course, nothing can be changed after the social-structural factors of the issues have been played down. It would no doubt heighten the tension between over-instrumentalisation, autonomy and responsibility of arts. Performing arts scholar Shannon Jackson also makes a significant contribution to the discussion: Besides the aesthetic decisions of individual artists, an awareness for the model and organisation of collaboration should also be raised while triggering structural change. [6]

I remember Mimi Lo asked, ‘Who gets to decide the autonomous space for wheelchair users? Is it himself or herself? Is it the hostels that prioritise so-called safety above all else? Is it the design of public facilities? Is it public attention? Can we trust that they are actually capable of taking care of themselves?’ These questions are worth examining and highlighting. Community dance is not only about producing a performance that embodies harmonious inclusion, but it also questions how a body can or why it cannot be displayed.

Artists are not social workers, and hence incapable of solving social issues. But which social contexts and needs do the community dance projects address? What kind of aesthetic experience does it bring to the community and how is it produced? These are the primary concerns.


This essay is only a preliminary study. Most community dance projects in Hong Kong rely on government funding and are therefore seldom critical of the arts establishment, which is absolutely understandable. That said, there is still a large room for discussion on how non-consumerist works can intervene in community and social groups. This essay attempts to bring forth four dimensions for assessment — spatial quality, aesthetic experience, horizontal learning, and structural changes. It is hoped that more artists and dancers can be humbler, put their delicate culture behind and initiate structural and educational changes. Through developing a fairer creative culture and remapping the sensibility contours drawn by unfair social resources allocation, we can build a society and community where people can safely trust each other, see each other, and create a future with richer imagination.



[1] Editor’s note: The five programmes are Merry Go-Round in Shatin by Rex Cheng and Iris Lau, Grad in My Dream by Hong Kong Circus, Fallen Butterfly — Stress Relief and Soar above City and Suburb by Siu Lung Fung Dance Theater and Street Dance Theatre, Hidden Dragon by Wong Chi-wing, Lo Cheuk-on and Shaw Siu-wai, and Heading Ahead by DanceArt Hong Kong. ‘2019 Community Cultural Ambassador Scheme promotes community arts,’ The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Press Releases, accessed 29 March 2021,

[2] Siu Lung Fung Dance Theater, ‘Bodies, Movement and the Cityscape,’ Facebook, accessed 29 March 2021,

[3] Ruedi Gerber, dir., Breath Made Visible (Argot Pictures, 2009).

[4] Excerpt from email interview with wen yau.

[5] For more details, please see my article ‘wanwuqiwu, nurenbuluo’ (everything dance, women’s tribes).

[6] For the details of Jackson’s contribution, please refer to ‘Quality Time: Social Practice Debates in Contemporary Art’ in Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (London: Routledge, 2011).


Bauman, Zygmunt. 2001. Community: Seeking Safety in an Insecure World (1st ed.). Cambridge: Polity.

Bishop, Claire. 2006. ‘The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents.’ Artforum (February 2006): 178–83.

____. 2004. ‘Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics.’ October 110: 51–79.

Bourriaud, Nicolas. 1998. Relational Aesthetics, trans. Simon Pleasance, Fronza Woods, Mathieu Copeland. Paris: Les Presse Du Reel.

Freire, Paulo. 2005. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. Myra Bergman Ramos. 51. New York: Continuum.

Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 2019 (2020). Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2019 (2020), viii.

Jackson, Shannon. 2011. ‘Quality Time: Social Practice Debates in Contemporary Art’. In Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics. 43–74. London: Routledge.

Jacob, Mary Jane. 1994. ‘An Unfashionable Audience’. In Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, edited by Suzanne Lacy, 58. Seattle: Bay Press.

Kuppers, Petra. 2007. Community Performance: An Introduction (1st ed.). London: Routledge.

Rancière, Jacques. 2011. The Emancipated Spectator (Reprint ed.), trans. Gregory Elliott. London, New York: Verso.

Schiller, Friedrich. 1993. ‘On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters,’ trans. Elizabeth M. Wilkinson, L.A. Willoughby. In Essays: Friedrich Schiller, edited by Walter Hinderer, Daniel O. Dahlstrom. 149. New York: Continuum.

Yu, Yeuk-mui Cally. ‘wanwuqiwu, nurenbuluo’ (everything dance, women’s tribes). The Stand News, 12 March 2019. Accessed 29 March 2021.萬物起舞-女人部落/.

Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, 1994. Edited by Suzanne Lacy. Seattle: Bay Press.


01_Acts of Commoning_Vangi Fong.JPG

‘Acts of Commoning: HK – Thai cultural exchange project’. Photographer: Vangi Fong. Image courtesy of the writer.


Everything That Rises Must Dance (Choreographer: Sasha Milavic Davies). Image courtesy of the writer.


Body in Time in ‘18dArt – Sai Kung Community Arts Scheme’. Photographer: Elsie Chau. Image courtesy of Unlock Dancing Plaza.


Let Our Hearts Integrated By Dance. Photographer: Jeff Ng. Image courtesy of Mimi LO Performing Arts Development Foundation.

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