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Hong Kong

Dance Overview 2018

Supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the Overview is an annual, bilingual collection of research-based essays that discuss significant issues and incidents of the Hong Kong dance.


Tai Kwun, the new heritage, visual arts and theatre venue in Hong Kong, opened in 2018 and presented the first 'Tai Kwan Dance Season’. As a new dance-themed festival in Hong Kong, it focused on presenting the local dance artists. The Tai Kwun team was willing to plan with artists in a long-term cooperation. The caring attitude for the artists may be an unusual process in the field of Hong Kong performing arts. What excitements and reflections would Tai Kwun instill in Hong Kong's dance scene? Will the curation of dance performances and festivals show new directions with the entrance of Tai Kwun?

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, in recent years, have been actively promoting the international visibility of Hong Kong's arts. In 2018, these institutions have separately or collaboratively orgainsed three groups of practitioners to represent Hong Kong in Classical:Next in the Netherlands, tanzmesse in Germany and CINARS in Canada. 'Going international' has always been projected positively by the institutions while practitioners respond the same, rejoicing 'international' as a synonym of artistic achievement. Being in the groups to tanzmesse and CINARS, the writer investigates the legibility of 'going international' as a narrative, and the possible reading of 'Hong Kong' as a signifier in the context of 'international'.

'Research Project—Oral History of Hong Kong Dance Development’ conceived by the City Contemporary Dance Company was completed in 2018. The Unspoken Dance: An Oral History of Hong Kong Dance (1950s-70s) was published in the following year. A website was also built to present the Project’s outcome which includes 'recording of interviews’. Historical writing regards 'oral history’ as structural discourse developed out of the dynamic communication between the interviewer and the narrator and is therefore considered a re-arrangement of the latter’s memories with the induction of the former. Joanna Lee and Venus Lam, the researchers of the Project, proposed the ‘pre-professionalisation’ historical-narrative framework for the interviews with the ten ex-practitioners of Hong Kong’s dance. However, there are specificities in the memory structure of the narrators. Under the premise of acknowledging ‘oral history’ as ‘archive’ and ‘historical materials’, this essay compares the similarities and differences of the historical narrative in The Unspoken Dance and the ‘recording of interviews’ and unearths the tension between the interview intention and orally-accounted memories. 

The notion of ‘interdisciplinary’ entails the crossing of boundaries.

Interdisciplinary performing arts is no longer new to Hong Kong and has been evolving as technology develops rapidly. Besides breaking through boundaries and seeking innovation, what are the drivers for making interdisciplinary performances? In 2018, the Hong Kong Dance Company and Utopia Cantonese Opera Workshop co-produced Waiting Heart and positioned it as a dance theatre and minimal Canto-opera. The production created much noise. Chances are interdisciplinary performance attracts new audience on top of the regulars, enabling it to tap into new ‘markets’. How can interdisciplinary performances effectively learn about, build, and educate the audience, so that they gain additional meaning and achieve a win-win situation? This is indeed a topic for the performing arts team to further contemplate, explore and plan.

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