Six Degrees

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2010, 12:00am

Six Degrees
City Contemporary Dance Company
Kwai Tsing Theatre
Reviewed: Dec 10

It's always exciting when an artist makes a breakthrough. With Six Degrees, Xing Liang's new work for the City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC), he has taken a giant step forward as a choreographer.

Xing's ambition to take dance to a new place and use the medium to express abstract (not to say abstruse) ideas is admirable. However, execution in the past has been too busy, making it hard for the audience to take in his abundance of ideas.

In Six Degrees (below), Xing has incorporated his signature flowing movement into a stronger structure and created effective contrasts between the static and the dynamic. Fast passages alternate with slow, group sequences with solos or duets.

There is excellent use of space and of floor patterns, with groups of dancers moving together to form a framework for individual figures.

In another intriguing concept, the dancers stand still and move their hands and arms in a hieroglyphic way. Initially reminiscent of Forsythe, this develops to give the sense of a strange language, a wordless communication whose meaning the audience can only glimpse. This sense of mystery is deepened by Wong Tan-ki's dreamlike video images of bodies floating in space.

Different elements are well integrated, making the production a powerful whole. In addition to video there are eclectic but pleasing costumes from Linda Lee, an elegant set by Ewing Chan, and an atmospheric score by Kung Chi-shing combining electronic sound with string music.

Above all, there is Goh Boon Ann's extraordinary lighting design, building structures of light or making the stage seem to sway like a ship on the water - stunning.

This is an ensemble piece and is performed superbly by the whole troupe, who dance with total commitment. Kudos to all for achieving perfect unity in the group sections, despite the complexity of both music and movement.

Unfortunately, Six Degrees runs out of steam and becomes repetitive towards the end. As with a number of CCDC's recent works, it suffers from being overstretched to make a full-length programme.

A return to double or triple bills could avoid this problem while allowing re-runs of outstanding pieces from earlier seasons.