Avant-garde but not fringe performers

SEVERAL acts at this year's Hongkong Arts Festival can be described as genre bending; opening new doors on sound, style and idiom.

Stomp, by a group called the Yes/No People is a one-hour piece during which none of the performers speaks, sings or plays a musical instrument.

It is comprised of a series of percussive journeys.

The group, whose members are aged from 22 to 36, uses everyday objects such as rubbish bin lids, Zippo lighters, oil drums and brushes to create a pulse-racing cacophony of sound.

The act has been acclaimed since its debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 1991. Since then, the group has been a hit at art events around the globe.

Luke Cresswell, founder of the group, described the influences they have drawn from as ''Western composition with elements of Kodo drumming, both flamenco and jazz music and choreographed with movements ranging from Fred Astaire to House jives''.


The dustbin banging of Stomp will be more structured, however, than that of the Horvitz, Morris and Previte Trio.

These three highly-acclaimed New York City jazz musicians have been together for eight years and this deep knowledge of each person's style enables them to have no set structure. Pieces are totally improvised.

Piano, cornet and drums combine to form a trio that is more often quiet and subtle rather than loud and disjointed.

Downbeat magazine said of the trio: ''From traditional to avant-garde, Horvitz opens new doors into sound, style and idiom.'' Also from New York City comes Margaret Leng Tan's musical theatre event that will be a far cry from a classical piano recital.


Her concert in February will begin with Tan off-stage playing fishing wire that has been attached to the strings of her piano. The audience hears her before she is seen.

But it is when this diminutive Singaporean-born artist appears beside her instrument that things happen.


John Cage, the ''patron saint'' of American avant-garde art was Tan's mentor until his death. She believes his spirit still helps her.

''Music is all around us if we only listen,'' the artist said.

Most people become physically less agile as they age but not Kazuo Ohno, the 86-year-old master of Butoh dance.


Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata created the Butoh style in postwar Japan.

Its slow simple form was embraced by the West during the 80s when audiences became more open to innovative dance forms.

Ohno will perform La Argentina and Water Lilies in Hongkong.


He cites his influences as Dadaism and nihilism.

The images are stark, minimal and bleak; the music as diverse as Schubert and Pink Floyd.

Explaining his vitality, Ohno said that to perform on stage was the best doctor.