Decadence conspicuously absent

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 June, 1998, 12:00am

THE last show in the Philip Morris All Independent Dance Series, Deca-dance is not quite the right title for this relay of dances. Firstly, because there were seven works rather than the decathlon the title suggested. But more importantly because these works were extremely clean-cut, with barely a hint of the degenerate.

It was hardly surprising that in a programme made up mainly of solo pieces there was a lot of contemplating the nature of loneliness. Daniel Yeung gave an athletic performance in underpants in his scene titled 'SOLOve'. It perfectly captured the frustration and despair of a young adult's pent-up energy.

When Yeung hopped with his shoulders on the floor and his feet hooked over his body, to the accompaniment of Saint-Saens' The Swan, he created a poignant but at the same time cryingly funny portrait of an emotionally injured man through his image of a wounded but still powerful bird.

A similar sense of vitality was found in Yap Poo Meng's Choice with its wonderful pas de deux and questions about what it is to be solo.

Delina Law's Woman To Be Or Not To Be was a less-successful exploration of alone-ness. In three short (but as those who left the auditorium would agree, not short enough) sections, Law explored three different kinds of emotional and physical responses to music. But watching her dress and undress, slowly put on make-up and even play patience with cards on a table was boring.

Yeung Chi-kuk and Ling Lee both chose to create scenes from China - Yeung with the story of an opera singer who loses everything he values, and Ling accompanied by Nelson Hui on erhu as a lost dancer from something Cultural Revolutionary. Yeung summoned up a genuine sense of sadness in his short piece. But although elements of Ling's choreography were mesmerisingly beautiful and self-contained, with red ribbons making red kites of freedom in the air, its length made it self-indulgent.

Selina Tan's Stepping was another nice simple idea - this time of exploring how a toddler responds to music unselfconsciously.

The last piece, Shi Mian Mai Fu by Jocelyn Chung, and performed by her and Abby Chan, was the wittiest of the evening. It was full of bubbles and creaks, a tour through a strange day in a park, with each person carrying the baggage of their personal thoughts and problems. One character was alarmed at her confrontation with a metal-wire silhouette of a man. He should have been easy to deal with - he looked like one of those co-ordination tests at fairs where you have to negotiate a metal rod around wire contours without touching them. But here the task was impossible, and the metal man kept beeping angrily.

Meanwhile, another character was staging a water-pistol shootout at the OK Allotment and doing some mighty strange things with a carrot-shaped water gun. The only hint of decadence throughout this 90-minute deca-dance.

DECA-DANCE 98 Cultural Centre Studio Theatre