Theatre review: Boy Story. Reborn - enduring work given new life
In 1996, Yuri Ng Yue-lit created one of the most iconic and enduring works in Hong Kong dance, Boy Story, an examination of male roles, insecurities and dreams in Chinese society that won major awards overseas.
Originally choreographed for the City Contemporary Dance Company, the six-man piece has since been performed many times by the CCDC and other groups, including the Hong Kong Dance Company, Taiwan's Cloud Gate 2 and the Hong Kong Ballet, and has even inspired an all-female version.
The latest revival is notable for bringing together three of the original cast members, Yap Choong Boon, Jay Jen Loo and Ong Yong Lock (now artistic director of Unlock Dancing Plaza); as well as Lim Chee Keat and Wong Thien Pau from the 1998 and 1999 versions respectively.
The sole newcomer, Chou Shu-yi fitted in seamlessly.
This revival bears the hallmarks of Ng's best work - witty, thought-provoking and inventive in both movement and the use of music. It has stood the test of time well, as has its veteran cast, who danced with impeccable style.
Ong revisits the initial concept and updates it - his six 2015 males are less inhibited and more confident than their 1996 predecessors; the choreography less refined and more athletic, involving as many stunts as it does dance. The cast's high-energy, awe-inspiring fitness and willingness to take risks make for fun entertainment, although the piece does goes on too long.
A special finale unites the men from both pieces along with several female dancers and features a brief appearance by the elegant Ng himself.
The joyous atmosphere in a theatre packed with the local dance community made the evening feel like a party.
At the end, Ng asks any audience members who had performed in a previous version of Boy Story to raise their hands. Arm after arm went up, to loud cheers - a touching testament to the special place the work holds in the history of Hong Kong dance.
Boy Story. Reborn, Unlock Dancing Plaza, Sheung Wan Civic Centre Theatre. Reviewed May 22