Jumping Frames began life eight years ago as a weekend screening of dance videos in a small 60-seat space. It has since evolved into a biennial festival, organised by the City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC), which celebrates an art form that combines choreography and dance with filmmaking. This week, it will travel to Italy, in a touring two-part programme to promote Hong Kong dance video, at events in Florence, Rome and Naples.
It is a challenging itinerary for seven days, to say the least, especially in a foreign country, but the CCDC managing director Clementine Chan Yee-man and festival curator Raymond Wong Kwok-wai, who arrive in Italy today, remain unfazed. Chan, also a painter, held the solo exhibition Symphony of Colours in Rome two years ago, so she has some idea of how the Italians operate. Wong, meanwhile, has had ample experience of working on the mainland: 'If you survive there, you survive anywhere,' he quips.
Since the first screening takes place tomorrow at the Cinema Odeon in Florence, the duo will be, literally, hitting the ground running. The evening event, titled 15 years of Hong Kong Dance Video, will showcase a dozen works by video artists as well as choreographers such as Xing Liang, Helen Lai Hoi-ling, Yeung Wai-mei, Yuh Egami and Dick Wong Tai-fai; all were made after this city returned to mainland rule in 1997.
Chan and Wong will talk about their experience in starting up Jumping Frames from scratch, since the art form was almost unheard of at the time. Now, it is the only dance video festival of its kind in Asia that features both commissioned and competition works.
The second part of the programme is a talk by Maurice Lai, one of the most active dance video directors in town. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts graduate has created stage video designs, video promos and shorts for choreographers and dance companies in Hong Kong, Singapore and Britain, and won a number of prizes including a gold award at Promax Asia in 2005. He will be comparing dance videos from around the world and discussing trends in the field.
The same two-part programme will be presented in Rome and Naples.
'Naples also has its own dance video festival so it's a good chance to make contacts there,' says Wong. 'But one important purpose of this trip is to introduce Hong Kong independent choreographers and filmmakers to a wider international audience by taking and showcasing their works abroad.'
I wish them good luck - especially as their accommodation in Naples had yet to be confirmed when this column went to print.