City Contemporary Dance Company
HK Cultural Centre Studio Theatre
Reviewed: Apr 23
Off Screen is the first full-length work by Noel Pong Chi-kwan, one of Hong Kong's most promising choreographers. A triumph from start to finish, this piece shows she has reached a new level of maturity.
Off Screen looks at the audience in a cinema, how they behave - from falling asleep to making love to having a row - and how they are affected by the films they watch.
Pong's selection of music, from Johannes Brahms to Philip Glass to Irving Berlin, is as eclectic and entertaining as cinema itself. She responds to it with choreography that is refreshingly uncluttered and innately musical. The piece is well structured, just the right length (not the least of accomplishments) and Pong shows herself equally adept at group numbers, duets and solos. She has a strong sense of space and an excellent command of the stage.
Above all, the piece is fresh, vibrant and full of humanity. Pong's exceptional flair for comedy - the rarest gift of all - is displayed in some hilarious sequences. Dolby Stereo is a blissful parody of Romantic ballet, Yawn has Chan Yi-jing and Dominic Wong Dick-man getting into a fight over falling asleep on each other's shoulders. In Popcorn, Yang Yizi is so transported by the strains of Some Day My Prince Will Come that she is oblivious to Wong tenderly feeding her popcorn by hand.
Darker moments evoke abusive relationships, anger and loneliness. Unconscious has a sense of mystery and striking use of stillness. In Coming Soon, two people connect briefly then slip back into solitude. Restrained yet moving, it is performed beautifully by Yang and Chan. In this ensemble, all the dancers are stars and there are too many outstanding performances to name them all. But a special word must be said for Michael Lopez, who brings the house down in the show-stopping Morning Matinee.
Lighting, design and video are all excellent, with Charfi Hung Ho-yan's perfectly judged costumes a stand-out.