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City Contemporary Dance Company
HK Cultural Centre Studio Theatre
Reviewed: Sep 17
Mui Cheuk-yin's new piece for City Contemporary Dance Company, Love, Accidentally, is billed as a deconstruction of the Chinese opera classic The Purple Hairpin. It opens and closes with a clear reference to this work where a duet for two lovers is constantly interrupted and they are forcibly parted from each other and strive to be reunited. This point, however, is where direct references to the story end.
The piece needs a stronger structure and consistency of theme to justify a running time of nearly 90 minutes. As it stands, it is too long and does not get going until halfway through. The second half is pleasingly lively and includes many good moments, but they do not come together as a cohesive whole. And for a piece which sets out to explore aspects of love, it was oddly lacking in emotional content.
On the plus side, the choreography is fluid and assured, with an ingenious assimilation of Chinese and contemporary styles. There are numerous references to Chinese opera and to gender stereotypes in Chinese culture, with male and female dancers reversing roles by donning the opposite sex's traditional costumes (right).
One entertaining sequence has different dancers on stage at the same time in solos representing the characteristics of the various signs of the zodiac. Combining dialogue with movement, these are wittily observed and brilliantly performed. The piece builds to a satisfying climax with a fast-moving, many-headed dragon dance with the dancers wearing female headdresses and linked together by the red fabric associated with weddings.
The dancers rise to the challenges of both movement and speech, and even prove themselves adept with Chinese opera props. There were exceptional performances from Michael Lopez and Chan Yi-jing. Jennifer Mok, Dominic Wong, Noel Pong and Lai Tak-wai also shone.
The piece benefits from striking original music by Tang Lok-yin, which works well with the choreography and neatly echoes the Chinese opera context. Leo Cheung's lighting and set design make admirable use of the awkward venue space.