Out of the Box

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2008, 12:00am

Out of the Box

City Contemporary Dance Company

Kwai Tsing Theatre

Reviewed: June 27

This new work choreographed by Xing Liang is as much a philosophical statement of what Xing believes dance should be as dance in itself. Xing has drawn inspiration from Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky together with Gao Xingjian's book Without Isms. He has come up with the view that dance should be completely abstract and consist of pure movement, divorced from any trace of narrative, form or personality.

This concept is far from new and has been propounded many times by contemporary dance theorists. Dance does not need to be narrative, but over-insistence on movement for the sake of movement can lead to an exercise in sterility if dancers are reduced to blank-faced automatons and choreography to geometry.

Xing's stated intention here is to focus on pure movement and the position of the body in space, eschewing the cliches of modern dance. There were some effective passages juxtaposing groups of dancers standing still while others moved, but the choreography relied heavily on variations on two or three core movements.

The dance vocabulary was disappointingly limited and soon became repetitive. This was accentuated by the monotonous pace and lack of structure - an avoidance of form may have been deliberate, but the piece did not develop in any significant way.

A long, slow solo by Qiao Yang halfway through provided a welcome contrast in both pace and movement, but overall there were not enough ideas to sustain a one-hour work.

The ingenious set by Ewing Chan and lighting design by Goh Boon Ann were excellent. The oppressive electronic music was at times so loud it was an assault on the ears.