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Hong Kong
Dance Overview 2019

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.


Hong Kong has seen more community and participatory dance projects in recent years, but little attention has been given to their values, practices, aesthetics, and angles 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.

'Dance’ and ‘art development’ were barely thought of in Hong Kong in the 1950s and 1960s due to economic and cultural constraints. It was only after 1967, when the British colonial government began actively formulating youth policy, that ‘dance’ was gradually looked at from ‘artistic’ and ‘cultural’ perspectives, and by so doing, the cultural roles of ‘dancers’ and ‘performing arts’ were defined. Catching up with the progress of society, the increased demand for ‘professional qualifications in dance’ became apparent in the development of Hong Kong dance in the 1980s and 1990s, and ‘dance creation’ came into being as a product of the times. The reality behind such a development, besides the desire to align Hong Kong dance with standards for western art, is that Hong Kong, as an international city with a dominant Chinese population, has inevitably and coincidentally been a cradle for ‘dance creators’ with a dance background from both Chinese and western cultures. Judging from the time context, Xianggang dangdai bianwujia zuopin yanjiu 1980–2010: Xianggang dangdai wudao lishi, meixue ji shenfen tanqiu (Studies on works by Hong Kong contemporary choreographers 1980–2010: Contemporary history of dance in Hong Kong, aesthetics and exploration of identity) studies the period, which saw major turning points and new highs in ‘Hong Kong’s performing arts’. It introduces the philosophy of art and aesthetics inclinations of Chin Siu-lin Miranda, Helen Lai, Mui Cheuk-yin, Yuri Ng, Pun Siu-fai and Yeung Chun-kong Daniel, a new wave of pioneers and forerunners of ‘Hong Kong’s dance creation’, during the phase of ‘rediscovering’ local choreographers. The book gives an outline of ‘Hong Kong’s performing arts’, which are represented by the art form of dance, and captures their features and essence, making an important mark on Hong Kong’s cultural trends in contemporary times — that they represent ‘Hong Kong’ as well as the ‘city branding’ of Hong Kong. Those artists create works in Hong Kong, and at the same time are creating the visible face of the city.

The Hong Kong Street Dance Development Alliance (HKSDDA) launched the first ‘Street Dance Theatre Development Programme’ in 2019 and introduced foreign models of street dance development into Hong Kong, demonstrating the possibilities of street dance. The performance introduced more elements to the ‘Battle’ format prevalent in street dance, triggering different responses, something HKSDDA has aspired to since its establishment in 2016. Composed of a group of like-minded street dancers, HKSDDA promotes street dance from the perspective of cultural heritage and recognition enhancement, creating platforms for different street dancers to explore their potentials and to encourage discussion. Another purpose of HKSDDA is to fight for more government resources for sustainable development. However, will this act of ‘going into the establishment’ stifle the spirit and development of street dance instead?

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