Hong Kong dance classic Boy Story revived with most of the original cast
Since its premiere in 1996, dancer-choreographer Yuri Ng Yue-lit's full-length work le beau has never been far from the stage. Initially a commission by the City Contemporary Dance Company, the all-male piece was later condensed by Ng into a 30-minute work called Boy Story, which won him the Prix d'Auteur at the 6th Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis (Bagnolet) in 1998.
Boy Story has been restaged many times, including at the Yokohama Dance Collection in Japan and the Tendances Dance Festival in France; the latest one was performed as part of Hong Kong Ballet's debut appearance with Japan's Architanz dance studio in March last year. But none seems as special as the upcoming production titled Boy Story. Reborn to be staged by Unlock Dancing Plaza.
The double bill will see most of Boy Story's original cast revive the classic that explores male anxiety, followed by a new piece titled Boy Story. Reborn. Choreographed by Ong Yong Lock, co-founder and artistic director of Unlock Dancing Plaza, the latter is Ong's response to revisiting a work in which he first performed as a 28-year-old. Now in his 40s, Ong is delighted to be reunited with his old friends.
"It was not easy to convince everyone to take part in the show again as many of them have moved on to other things," says Ong. "For me, I celebrate every opportunity I have to perform on stage — it's like counting down each time as there's no telling when I will have to stop. It's obviously more demanding for us to do things we used to find effortless, although it's nice to see our passion has not diminished with age."
While Ong, Jay Jen Loo, Yap Choong Boon, Wong Thien Pau and Lim Chee Keat — all in their 40s — have taken part in Boy Story performances at certain times in their careers, Taiwanese dancer Chou Shu-yi was invited to take part. It is a work that has intrigued him since he watched Cloud Gate 2's production of it as a student. He will replace Chan Yi-jing in bringing back a solo of challenging barre work.
"We failed to convince Chan to dance himself, but he has been very enthusiastic in teaching Chou," says Ng. "I couldn't hold back the tears when I saw Chan demonstrating his moves. He is exactly the same, not in terms of his figure — he has a belly now — nor agility, but in his unwavering spirit. It was like he was possessed by his younger self. He poured his heart out coaching Chou, so I'm curious to see Chou relive it."
The idea of passing the passion of dancing to the next generation is even stronger in Boy Story. Reborn.
It explores the physical capabilities of its five dancers — James Yau, Joseph Lee, Lai Tak-wai, Andy Lee and Skinny Ng, who are all in their 20s or early 30s — and will incorporate three symbolic props from Boy Story: a platform, barre and guitar.
"Putting the two pieces togetheris a chance for us to review our past and look ahead to the new generation of dancers," Ong adds. "Whether our scene will flourish depends on them."
Boy Story. Reborn, Unlock Dancing Plaza, Sheung Wan Civic Centre Theatre, 5/F Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building, 345 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan, May 22-23, 8pm. HK$160, HK$200 Urbtix. Inquiries: 2268 7323