HONG KONG dancers might not be as physically trained as their mainland counterparts, but the city's east-meets-west culture offers a comparatively free atmosphere that is conducive to nurturing creativity, said Xing Liang, one of the mainland's most accomplished modern dance talents. 'The modern dance scene in Hong Kong is completely different from what it is in the mainland,' Beijing-born Xing said. 'I have just returned from a trip to Guangzhou and I can say there is a lot more creativity in Hong Kong. The atmosphere here is much freer and more in touch with what is happening in the real world. 'The influence of history and culture is much stronger in the mainland, but in some ways this has become a kind of burden, as it restricts artistic expression,' the dancer said. 'Things can be very rigid and inflexible. 'Hong Kong allows for more freedom of artistic expression. As an artist, I can learn more in Hong Kong than on the mainland.' Xing graduated in classical dance from the Beijing Dance Academy in 1991. He won the gold prize in the Tao Li Bei Competition in both the junior and senior sections, and between 1991 and 1992 he was a principal dancer in the academy's Youth Division. He joined the Guangdong Modern Dance Company in 1993. Xing has won numerous awards in China and on the international dance stage. He has taken part in choreography in residence programmes and various dance festivals around the world. He arrived in Hong Kong in 1998 after a five-year stint in Guangzhou, and is now a resident artist of the Hong Kong-based City Contemporary Dance Company.