Long time no see, but you look the same.

Silver Rain, 25 Sep 2004, 8pm, City Hall Theatre

City Contemporary Dance Company’s (CCDC) recent touched up logo reads ’25 years of dancing’. 25 years can be long and winding and one must appreciate the hard work of the company for dancing for a quarter of the century incessantly. 25 years of age, a man should be in his robust years, but CCDC seems to be in her aging time.

I went to see Silver Rain on Sep 25. The choreographers are the ‘ever-green’ ones – Willy Tsao, Helen Lai, Pun Siu-fai, Mui Cheuk-yin and Yuri Ng. But the programme still surprised me by its repertoire in number – 18 pieces of excerpts in one evening.

The programme was kicked off by the Artistic Director, Willy’s Wanderings in the Cosmos and Bird Song. Compared to Sexing Three Millennia, Willy’s older works are obviously more appealing in terms of choreography and mood. Sexing Three Millennia doesn’t work because of its lack of passion. Worst still, the wierd costumes just stop people from appreciating the mere movements.

Yuri’s association with CCDC arouses my curiosity. He’s never been a resident choreographer with the company; why are his two works, The Firecracker and Boy Story, chosen to celebrate the company’s anniversary? This is not to criticize Yuri’s choreography. He is witty and charming, but both of his works were created in mid 90’s and it seems he was not allowed to grow with the company thereafter. Not only Yuri, we seldom see new works from Mui and Pun, who were respectively resident with the company artistically and administratively.

It is not an easy task to group so many excerpts in one evening, as the works would be taken away from the original contexts. This is very much the case for Pun’s Lost in a Melodramatic City and Notes from a Schizophrenic City (how disappointing that Jacky Yu, the co-choreographer is not slightly mentioned). It doesn’t make any sense at all for the two static pieces to be staged here. They can hardly be deemed as ‘dance’.

Mui’s October Red and Eulogy are two ends of a spectrum. Eulogy is already her signature piece and needs no further praises. What has changed Mui from being sentimental and poetic to what we see in October Red? There must be some stories but what the audience look forward to seeing is what she has been transformed into. It is a pity that Mui’s collaboration with CCDC stops only there.

Helen is already a master in choreography. Eight works – Plaza X, The Comedy of K, Invisible Cities, Nine Songs, and Show Your Colours – excerpted already demonstrate her versatility, regardless of the degree of excellence each varies in. Nine Songs is a classic in terms of the musicality and originality of the movements.

More a cliche than classic, China Wind . China Fire has been re-run for a few times despite its untimeliness (this makes its recent tour to the USA ironic enough). The piece closes the evening, but I hope it doesn’t bring the company just there.

Xing Liang remains the star, though a bit tarnished, among the dancers. What CCDC changes most is her cast. Other than Xing Liang, Qiao Yang and perhaps Janet Chang, others are not orginal cast in China Wind . China Fire. It must not go without noticing that Jay Jen Loo impresses the audience with his maturity and improvement after all these years.

Silver Rain seems to imply bits and pieces condensed over the 25 years. Not a mention about when the works were created in the programme notes seems contradicting to the theme of the whole evening.

Perhaps the audiences were just there for reunion and then felt comforted to see their old friend remains the same and unchanged. Why bother to move on then?

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