Review: Outshine - intense, astounding, bold or just enjoyable, this was great dance

Programme of four short pieces reminded us what a wonderful dancer Luo Fan is and how talented a choreographer Yuh Egami is, and was full of good dancing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 July, 2016, 2:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 July, 2016, 2:59pm

An E-Side production, Outshine brings together four short pieces from different choreographers. While there are no masterpieces, it’s a consistently entertaining programme – the choreography displays an impressive level of assurance and the dancing is particularly good.

Mr Judge is a solo choreographed and performed by former City Contemporary Dance Company luminary Luo Fan, now a member of Sweden’s Goteborg Dance Company. Set to a creepy spoken piece from the Late Night Tales audio series, this is something completely different - Criminal Minds meets contemporary dance.

Dark, intense and theatrical, it does a skilful job of building tension and sends a pleasurable shiver down the spine. Above all, it’s a welcome reminder of what a phenomenal dancer Luo is – his fluidity and freedom of movement are astounding and it’s good to see how he has continued to develop as an artist since leaving Hong Kong in 2012.

One of Hong Kong’s most talented younger choreographers, Yuh Egami has never been afraid to take risks. In Firefly he renews his partnership with multimedia ace James Kong King-sin in an experiment to express movement in patterns of light generated by electronic devices worn on the dancers’ bodies.

As the performers (Yui Sugawara and Wu Cheng-fang) dance on their own or interweave on the dark stage, their movements are picked out by lights on their arms and legs and re-created in flashes and whorls of light projected on the backcloth.

The title is particularly apt – the effect is indeed like watching fireflies. It’s bold and refreshingly original, even if the focus on technical aspects doesn’t fully do justice to the quality of the dancers or Hiromi Uehara’s evocative piano music.

The remaining pieces were more conventional in nature – enjoyable though they were, they failed to break new ground in terms of theme or style.

Li Yongjing’s Sense of Distance, a duet framed by two solos, explores a young couple’s fraught relationship (or failure to relate). The choreography is well crafted, the music well chosen and it’s danced with impressive athleticism and expressiveness by Cola Ho Lok-yee and Eric Kwong Yin-cheung.

In Keep Me Waiting, Noel Pong revisits a solo she created in 2005, which portrays a woman waiting for a man who never comes and ends with her pulling an endless stream of tissues from her shoulder bag and smearing lipstick across her face.

Here it’s been expanded to incorporate a duet with Lai Tak-wai, yet the story doesn’t change – although the pair dance together it seems he exists only in her imagination. The piece is beautifully danced and demonstrates Pong’s flair for storytelling and her outstanding musicality. However, it would have been better to ditch the unwieldy shoulder bag, which hampers the duet section.

Outshine, E-Side Dance Company, Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre. Reviewed: July 9