Moods in a moving frame
JUMPING Frames@HKDF2006, a Hong Kong Dance Festival programme jointly presented by City Contemporary Dance Company, Hong Kong Dance Alliance and Emergency Lab, aims to show the art of dance offstage on video.
Jumping Frames began in 2004 as the first dance video competition in Hong Kong, and this year it has received more 100 entries from around the world, including Australia, China, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malaysia and the United States.
This year awards went to Simona da Pozza from Italy, whose i._ tells a bizarre story of two men wandering between their urban and private spaces; American director and choreographer Amy Caron for her creation Pas des deux des Fantomes, a dream-like world of ghosts with endless optical illusions; and the duo of homegrown fashion designer Silvio Chan and modern dance choreographer Xing Liang for their work titled Fashion and Dance.
Chan and Xing started the project for fun, and neither had a clear idea of what would result from it. 'Silvio started by handing me some very strange things - a shirt with only one sleeve and trousers with only one leg, a stool, a folding bed, some scissors and an iron,' Xing said. 'He then started filming while I started to improvise.'
Other takes saw Xing dressing up in a mermaid's costume and pretending to swim, dancing while a mobile phone was attached to his head with a lengthy strip of cloth, and painting the Chinese characters for 'A tale of changing clothes' with a huge Chinese brush on a large piece of white paper.
Exploring the theory of clothes and the relationship between fashion and dance, the original edition ran for 30 minutes and included a soundtrack. Filming took three days.
Xing was so impressed by the results he suggested that Chan enter it in the Jumping Frames competition. The fashion designer did not seem too interested at first, but changed his mind eventually and made a 15-minute, soundless version of it.
Xing said: 'Silvio said that Hong Kong people were surrounded by noise so he wanted them to experience the piece in total silence. It is definitely very original, creative and interesting.'
As a highlight of the local talent, three other groups of video artists and dance professionals were commissioned to create original works.
Highly regarded independent choreographer Yeung Wai-mei worked with long-time collaborators and cinematographers Guy Cheung and Adrian Yeung to produce The Love Between J and L.
'K is the letter in between J and L. My video is about love at a K [karaoke] room, between the virtual reality and reality,' Yeung Wai-mei said.
The video is an abstract drama about a couple singing karaoke. As they lose themselves in the lovesick tunes, the scene cuts into their fantasies of being the characters of the karaoke videos.
'In the 1980s there were a lot of karaoke video scenes in which the girlfriend gets angry and slaps the boyfriend and then she cries and hugs a teddy bear,' Yeung Wai-mei said.
'In reality we experience these things too.'
Although looking at a karaoke production from the 1980s might make you giggle, Yeung said the world had not moved on all that much.
'These days karaoke videos have basically the same elements. The colour toning might be different, the makeup and styling might not be the same, but there are the same plots. We want to project that reality and karaoke are inseparable.'
The videos from the 1980s have been chosen mostly because all three artists involved grew up in that era.
Yeung Wai-mei has created videos to complement her on-stage performances in the past, but this is the first time she has created an individual dance video.
Producing the video turned into a learning curve. 'We were ambitious to start, we wanted the video to be like a film,' she said. 'But we later found out that developing a storyline was not easy. It's a dance video so we couldn't have too many spoken words and had to use scenes and editing to show people's interactions.'
But the experience was mostly pleasurable. 'When a dance is put in actual landscapes and not staged scenes it's very interesting. That contrast is something I want to explore further.'
Another commissioned work to be shown at this year's Jumping Frames is Colour Trilogy, by Malaysian-born choreographer Ong Yong Lock and Hong Kong video artist Maurice Lai, who collaborated for the first time.
Lai said: 'On stage, all the dancers are there. The audience can choose to see what they want to see. In video, we can use lenses and editing to show audiences what I want them to see. It's more subjective.'
The video was produced in red, white and blue. 'We chose the moods we wanted first, not the colours. White is the colour of beginning, red is emotional and profane and blue is more romantic and imaginative,' he said.
He advised viewers of Colour Trilogy not to expect anything in particular. 'If there is an expectation, you are either surprised or disappointed. If you just relax and watch, you might see details you didn't expect.'
Another commissioned work, Y/N, was produced by choreographer Dick Wong and video artist Chan Pik-yu. It is an aesthetic dance video about the struggles between the opposite sexes on stage and off.
Finally, the Ultimate Panel's Choice honour went to an Australian entry, I Dream of Augustine, choreographed by Narelle Benjamin and directed by Cordelia Beresford.
June 10, 17 and 18 (APA), 13-16 (Goethe-Institut Hongkong)
Venue Screening Room, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The Goethe-Studio, Goethe-Institut Hongkong showing is exclusive for package purchasers.
Time 3pm, 5pm and 8pm
Ticket price $50