Tonight, close to 40 artists in dance, music and multimedia from around the world including Ireland, Germany, the US and the mainland will gather at Kwai Tsing Theatre for the i-Dance Improv Gala 2011, a highlight of an improvisation dance festival curated by Y Space's Victor Ma Choi-wo and Mandy Yim Ming-yin. The dance couple have pulled off quite a coup in getting some top names in the field -including choreographers Michael Klien, Daniel Yeung Chun-kwong, Abby Chan Man-yee, Julian Barnett and Xiao Ke - to take part. But when I caught up with Yim after the Dance in the Bamboo Garden performance at Yuen Long Theatre last weekend, she was looking anxious.
The i-Dance festival, she told me, wasn't selling well.
Can't say I'm surprised. Improv dance is an art form that puts both performer and audience to the test. To be able to move in a fluid and intelligent manner without pre-structured choreography is hard. It requires a good understanding of the body, a sound dance vocabulary and experience.
So, interesting and challenging as the genre is, it's never going to sell - which is why iDance needs all the support it can get and, sadly, Yim says, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council has already turned down Y Space's application to host this event again next year. That is a shame because the festival also sets out to foster international cultural exchange and I thought our government is really into that.
Talking about cultural exchange, Theatre du Pif flew the SAR flag when artistic directors Sean Curran and Bonni Chan Lai-chu took their bilingual piece Dance Me to the End of Love to the Manizales International Theatre Festival in Colombia in September. 'It was inspiring. I never really thought [about performing in] South America,' says Curran, who also performed in Bogota. 'The [intention] was to take our work to some new place and to test it in a place [where] the culture is quite different from Asia and Europe. It went down really well.'
The audience in Bogota suggested they should do a show on Gabriel GarcIa Marquez's work - Dance Me to the End of Love is inspired by Leonard Cohen songs and Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha - and the troupe has already been invited to perform in Brazil.
'Local companies need to get out. It's a big world out there. Sometimes ... artists get trapped into the little things here ... they may be important but you have to go outside and see what others are creating while works created here can be celebrated over there.'
An exhibition of photos and an installation on their South American trip will be staged at the Fringe Club later this month.