Dance review: Bipolar Bodies by Hong Kong Dance Company

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 May, 2015, 6:06am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 May, 2015, 6:06am

Bipolar Bodies

Hong Kong Dance Company

Sheung Wan Civic Centre

Reviewed: May 16

This latest addition to Hong Kong Dance Company's "8/F Platform" series of experimental dance theatre is a stunning collaboration between company principal Chen Jun and one of the city's most talented dancer/choreographers, Daniel Yeung Chun-kwong.

The title is a reference to the theme of poles, which appear in many forms, from the traditional bamboo staff of Chinese martial arts to the axis on which our planet revolves, represented by a swinging pole hanging from the ceiling upon which the performers do, yes, pole dance.

An extra dimension is added by the brilliant lighting effects of new media artist Keith Lam, which illuminate the poles so they pulse with light or generate spectacular patterns as they whirl and swing on the darkened stage.

And the performers display extraordinary deftness and control in handling their props. There are duets involving extended balances with long poles often resting miraculously just on one raised foot, or rapid spinning where they become a blur of light.

At one point Yeung even climbs up the much taller Chen like a pole - a sequence that ends with positions reversed as Chen lies horizontally across Yeung's shoulders and outstretched arms. Each dancer shines, doing what he does best. Chen demonstrates his mastery of classical Chinese dance technique with multiple turns, soaring jumps and extraordinary control, as in an awe-inspiring moment where he slides slowly into the splits.

Yeung's ability to create sculptured shapes with his body is perfectly displayed on the swinging pole, from which he hangs fearlessly metres above the floor in a series of breathtaking positions, often anchored by no more than one bent knee.

Admirable in its originality and its execution, Bipolar Bodies is a thrilling hour of dance theatre that merits further showings and a wider audience.