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Dancers Shirley Lok and Felix Ke in a scene from “Meeting In-Between Time”, a City Contemporary Dance Company production at the former Dairy Farm staff quarters in Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong. Photo: Yvonne Chan

ReviewCraft beer lubricates audience for Hong Kong contemporary dance show

  • Meeting In-Between Time, a site-specific production by City Contemporary Dance Company at a Pok Fu Lam heritage site, blends dance, sound and video projection
  • Contrasting scenes in this pensive, poetic work make full use of the former Dairy Farm staff quarters site and occasionally confuse the senses

As if an “immersive” landscape, “mesmerising” sound effects and “video mapping” aren’t enough of a draw, the City Contemporary Dance Company has thrown in local craft beer as an extra sensory stimulation for people who watch its show Meeting In-Between Time at a Hong Kong heritage site.

Choreographer Sang Jijia’s site-specific creation could easily have been overwhelmed by gimmickry. Yet all the elements complement each other beautifully in this pensive and poetic production.

The venue, renamed “The Pokfulam Farm” for the show, is a 135-year-old building that housed the staff quarters of Dairy Farm; there is open space on the site and a separate, glass-fronted function room. Just outside the gates of Béthanie, a former French Mission sanatorium, it recently reopened as a centre for the history and culture of Pok Fu Lam.

With the temperature still hovering around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) at 6pm, ticket holders on the show’s opening weekend who bought the “Local Brewery Package” were quick to claim their can of ice-cold beer before the show began.

There was no seating, and so the crowd milled around the grassy areas outside, with a giant rabbit lantern and a fake cow providing a comic and slightly surreal backdrop.

A hush descended when two dancers, Eric Kwong and Simpson Yau, quietly emerged from the crowd, their heads touching, their arms linked. They began an elegant and intimate duet of gentle sparring and twirls, their bodies always connected, as if they had been starved of physical contact and could not bear to pull apart.

A scene from “Meeting In-Between Time”, a City Contemporary Dance Company production at The Pokfulam Farm. A real-time video feed shown is on screens that obscure the audience’s view of the dancers save for their lower legs. Photo: Yvonne Chan

The feeling of affection and mutual sustenance dissipated in the next scene. Dancers shut up inside the function room appeared confused, their movements becoming increasingly frenzied.

The audience gathered outside could only see them twitch and writhe via a live video feed on screens that obscured most of the glass windows. All that was directly visible were their lower legs, which appeared strangely disjointed.

The ridiculing of our addiction to technological intervention and of our disembodied experience of seeing the world became more pointed as members of the audience inevitably pointed their phones at the scene.

A scene from “Meeting In-Between Time”, a City Contemporary Dance Company production. Qiao Yang and Shirley Lok look out of an upper floor window of the former Dairy Farm staff quarters in Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong. Photo: Yvonne Chan

As dusk fell, a footbridge leading to the upper level of the former staff quarters became the stage for dancers led by Bobo Lai and Peggy Lam. They moved pliantly, inhaling and exhaling as a collective and draping themselves fluidly along the fences to the sounds of Dickson Dee’s restorative music. It was all the more affecting because of the proximity of the dancers to the audience.

The final scene unfolded at the back of the colonial-era building, with Qiao Yang appearing at an upstairs window framed dramatically by video projections on the outside walls of the dancers inside (one of the dancers, Felix Ke, was behind the camera).

Again, our senses were confused; it was as if, as the name of the work suggests, we momentarily escaped time.

Meeting In-Between Time offers a fulfilling mix of heritage buildings, technology and dance. The single can of beer that comes with the ticket is just enough to put you in the right mood.

City Contemporary Dance Company: Meeting In-between Time, The Pokfulam Farm. Until Oct. 16. Reviewed: Oct. 9.