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Sights and Sounds

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Leisure and Cultural Services Department

Dance Day on December 3 gives Hongkongers a chance to make the perfect connection

Event adviser Andy Wong calls the December 3 event ‘No boundary’ to encourage participation from anyone, any time and anywhere and in whatever style

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 November, 2017, 9:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 5:16pm

How often does your life come in contact with dance? You may have gone to the ballet, or seen pop stars moving to the beat in live performances. You may have taken the dance floor on a night out or signed up for classes at the gym. But have you thought of using dance as a way to connect and communicate with people, every day?

That’s what Andy Wong, one of Hong Kong’s veteran dancers and choreographers, hopes to see. He is the event adviser for the upcoming Dance Day at Tuen Mun Town Hall on December 3 from 1-5pm. The programme is open to and free for all.

This is the fifth year Wong has been involved, the previous three as an adviser. He has been working to make the event more interactive.

“The original purpose was audience development, to get more people to go to the theatre. Before, we opened up the space and gave free dance performances for appreciation,” he says. Over the past two years, there has been a greater focus on audience participation.

Wong says that Hongkongers are more reserved and less likely to jump out of their seats to dance as audiences do in many other countries, but he believes it is changing.

“At the World Cultures Festival opening at the Grand Theatre of the Cultural Centre, members of the audience stood up without being asked,” Wong says. “Some went up on stage to take photos. When they sensed music, it’s normal to sense the emotions, and when the feelings reached a certain point, the reaction was to dance.”

“Even an elderly person in the audience next to me was moving to the beat.”

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The theme of the annual event for the past two years was “Dynamic” and “Appreciation”respectively, this year Wong has decided to call it “No boundary” in an attempt to encourage participation from anyone, any time and anywhere and in whatever style.

The day’s programme includes many different elements to allow more contact with the public. Improvisation Land, inspired by a movement that began in the 1960s, will make its debut. “There is a round space where dancers invite people to join in the action. There are professional and amateur dancers, and everything happens by chance,” Wong explains.

“It can be any style and any expression. It’s about physical contact and interaction, breaking physical boundaries, and participation boundaries. People are encouraged to hold hands.”

Returning for the third time is Environmental Dance, where a group of five dancers will collaborate to design an interactive performance. Also returning is Public Square Dancing, where seniors and those from the special needs community will take the lead in two hours of a free dancing segment, inviting bystanders and passers-by to join.

To help the public understand the creative process behind a dance performance, there will be the Work-in-progress Presentation, featuring interactive workshops where the audience is invited to witness a dance performance being made and to ask questions about it.

One of the five workshops, led by Unlock Dancing Plaza, will invite the public to help design a performance, put on the show and have it recorded at the outdoor square, and replayed inside the hall for an open discussion.

Wong will put on a workshop called Fading or Not, inspired by two years spent working in suicide prevention among youths through dance. “I want to show how to interpret a real-life story through choreography.”

Even the regular feature of the One-minute Flash Dance will get a revamp, with more structured time slots and moves to engage the audience. The ‘U Can Dance!’ Free Dancing Zone gives everyone oneminute to be a performer. “Dance welcomes you, and there are many sides to it. You can watch it sitting down, standing up, or if you want to participate and are willing to try, we will give you the opportunity.”

Members of the dance community will be there on the day to interact with the public, including students from the School of Dance of The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

“We support Dance Day every year, no matter how busy we are,” says Stella Lau, senior lecturer (ballet) and leader of the Gifted Young Dancer Programme of the institute. “Our students are our ambassadors. They are the best role models to illustrate what dance has done to them.”

Lau is also a firm believer in community outreach through dance. One of the most recent events she has organised was a public ballet workshop at the Nursery Park at West Kowloon Cultural District.

“Ballet often gives people the impression of being aloof and distant, that it only happens in the theatre, with beautiful costumes, but is that so?” she asks.

At the event, the public was invited to learn bar work – an important warm-up routine for ballet dancers – and memes. “As an educator, I am most interested in the impact of dance, as an art form, on the person,” she says.

Lau says art appreciation among the public has risen dramatically. “Recently the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) 1 came to Hong Kong – 10 years ago it was hard to push ticket sales, this time around, the shows sold out a month before the performance dates,” she says.

Nederlands Dans Theater takes dance inspiration from ancient Chinese shamanic text, the Book of Changes