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Review: Femininity - four dances that show talent and imagination

Low-key programme has a workshop feel

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2015, 10:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2015, 10:30am

This low-key programme is made up of four short pieces that give it a workshop feel - an opportunity for the participating choreographers, all female, to explore and experiment. While the ideas could have been more fully realised, most of the work showed pleasing evidence of talent and imagination.

After a slow start, Alice Ma's Soulless evolves into an intriguing duet in which a woman is manipulated like a marionnette by a man who, after seeming to seek her affection, backs away when she finally comes to life and puts her arms around him. The concept was intelligent, if not entirely original, and this was a thoughtful piece with a welcome touch of emotional resonance. It also had some difficult partnering, with the woman maintaining doll-like rigidity when lifted and was well performed by Ma and Felix Ke.

Curiously, the only overtly feminine theme was Kirsten Ho's Hand-Me-Downs, a tribute to the preceding generations of women in the choreographer's family. Each generation is represented by a different garment, which Ho takes in turn from layers of clothing on a mannequin, tries on and dances with. Each garment represents a layer of conformity peeled off by the women of the past.

The idea is strong, original and has potential to be developed further, with greater structure. It was danced with passion by Ho (below), who has a bold freedom of movement and lively stage presence.

The first half of Jennifer Mok's A Major Clown in G-Flat, set to Stephen Sondheim's Send in the Clowns is stunning. Without make-up or costume, Mok brilliantly evokes the figure of a clown with hunched shoulders and blank grin. Mok is an outstanding dancer and showed real creativity of movement as well as technical prowess. Although the second half, set to Schubert, runs out of ideas, Mok shows real promise as a choreographer.

The only let-down of the programme was Blue Ka Wing's The Neighbour. The concept is interesting, as people go about their business, drawing, eating, working, on one side of the stage, unaware of a neighbour (the choreographer) who dances alone on the other side. Unfortunately, execution is lacking: the vocabulary of movement is limited, the choreography is repetitive, and the piece drags.

Femininity, E-Side Dance Company, Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre. Reviewed: September 11