E-Side Dance Company’s new work is a little less than the sum of its parts

Choreographer Jacky Yu and seven ‘creator/performers’ make a lively and agreeable show, but it never really comes together into a coherent, focused piece

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 5:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 5:00am

Jacky Yu Yan-wah’s new full-length piece for E-Side Dance Company brings together four male and three female dancers – Felix Ke, Charlie Leung, Po Lam, Henry Shum, Evains Lui, Ivy Tsui and Tracy Wong – who are described in the programme as creator/performers while Yu is described as producer/choreographer.

The reason for the title Gestalt (“an organised whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts”) soon becomes clear, as the opening group number gives way to a series of solos and duets that are clearly the work of the individual dancers.

These are talented artists and the piece has a lot of good dancing. It’s lively to watch, with plenty of energy and some genuinely striking moments.

However, it lacks coherence and focus. Chopping and changing between differing ideas and styles, it simply doesn’t go anywhere. The problem is that it is not “more than the sum of its parts” and fails to coalesce into an effective whole.

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All choreographers draw on their dancers to come up with steps and suggestions as part of the process of making new work. That said, choreography is not a democracy: the choreographer’s role is not to orchestrate, but to create – the best work bears the choreographer’s own stamp and it is his or her distinctive voice that speaks to the audience.

Yu and E-Side presents several programmes of short pieces each year that showcase a diversity of approaches. A full-length work is a different affair, and Gestalt suffers from too many cooks spoiling the broth.

Gestalt, E-Side Dance Company, Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre Theatre, Reviewed: January 22