Iron and Silk

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am

Iron and Silk

City Contemporary Dance Company

City Hall Theatre

Reviewed: March 31

Iron and Silk comprises two new pieces from local choreographers: Movements and Shadows, by Helen Lai, and Lights Up, by Jacky Yu. Both revolve around light and shadow, and are well contrasted under the label 'vulnerability meets invincibility'.

In Lai's piece, inspired by the writings of modern Chinese poet Beidao, solos expressing fragility and isolation are performed to wistful phrases of piano and violin music, or in silence.

The dancers, dressed in flimsy white, move in a dreamlike fashion - even when another person enters their space, they're unable to make meaningful contact. A girl dances with her shadow; a man brushes aside the woman who tries to reach him to return to his mothlike obsession with light.

Structurally, this weakens the piece, because the lack of interaction becomes monotonous. Outstanding moments include an impassioned solo by Xing Liang, and a playful passage in which a man recites a fragmented poem while playing with a mirror. Impeccably performed by Dominic Wong, this shows Lai's choreography at its witty, inventive best.

In Lights Up, the dancers are dressed in black, harsh lights glare out into the audience, and the accompaniment is driving electronic music.

The piece makes extensive use of a metal rack with lights. The dancers balance on it, climb through it, roll under it and take it apart.

The concept is clever, and Yu is to be commended for trying something so ambitious. But the technical aspects overwhelm the dance, and the set trans-formations weren't smooth. The choreography starts strongly, but becomes repetitive.

The costumes and sets for both pieces are well-designed by Ewing Chan and Silvio Chan, and Jo Phoa's lighting for Movements and Shadlows was excellent.