Review: Little Pieces – Dominic Wong’s meditation on memory shows new maturity

Hong Kong choreographer’s new work for City Contemporary Dance Company contains moments of magic, even if the finale is too long and pushes dancers and audience to the limits of endurance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 April, 2016, 12:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 April, 2016, 12:31pm

Little Pieces, Dominic Wong Dick-man’s new, full-length creation for the City Contemporary Dance Company, is a striking, ambitious work in which Wong attains a new level of maturity and confidence as a choreographer.

The title refers to the idea that memory is a puzzle made up of many pieces, a fragmentary picture of experiences, relationships and emotions, some remembered, some missing.

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The piece opens with Together, a haunting, elegiac solo by Qiao Yang, accompanied by her own voice, recalling her life in dance and her beloved late sister (represented by a figure standing in the background high above the stage).

Progressing from classroom ballet steps to modern dance and incorporating excerpts from work by Helen Lai Hoi-ling that Qiao has performed, it charts both her development as a dancer and her emotional journey in life.

After that the mood changes sharply, with the rest of the work set to driving electronic music.

Yuen Hon-wai’s designs have the cast uniformly dressed in simple white and create a frame around the top of the stage with the trunk of a tall tree half seen, half hidden at the back.

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Strong sequences include Companionship, which shows off the talents of the male dancers, ending with a passage where Natalie Mak is lifted and manipulated by five men in an impressive display of partnering skills; and two duets: the infinitely tender Caring for Mak and Lee Ka-ki, and the powerful Queer for Lee and Ivan Chan, full of violent emotion.

Three high-energy sequences with the whole company dancing in unison demonstrate Wong’s assurance in deploying large groups and his effective use of space.

The finale, set to the ferociously complex rhythms of Beast’s Sharp Incisors, is a 100-mile-an-hour ride that pushes the dancers (and, indeed, the audience) to the limits of their endurance.

There is a magical moment when the music stops but the rhythms are carried on by the sound of the dancers’ feet.

Exhausting both to perform and to watch, it goes on too long – when the dancers took their bow at the end they were panting and streaming with sweat – but then that’s probably the point.

Little Pieces confirms again that Wong stands out from the Hong Kong pack as a choreographer with a strong, distinctive voice and real originality in both what he has to say and the vocabulary of movement he uses to say it.

Much kudos to the dancers for an excellent performance of such a hugely demanding work.

Little Pieces, City Contemporary Dance Company, Cultural Centre Studio Theatre. Reviewed: April 15