When Feng may not be wind, Shui may not be water.

Feng‧Shui, 29 May 2006, 8pm, Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium

This is a double bill with Feng being choreographed by Daniel Yeung and Shui by Mui Cheuk Yin. ‘Feng’ and ‘shui’ literally mean wind and water in Chinese and ‘Feng Shui’ together means the geomancy of how to harmonise the five elements on earth, a concept that is ingrained in the Chinese culture.

Feng
The dance started with a prologue happening downstage whilst the audiences were getting into the auditorium with the house lights on. When the house lights dimmed and the audiences started to focus on how the dancer Chan Yi Jing reacted to other dancers’ tickling by blowing air onto his body, it was expectedly disturbing that the house announcement was broadcasted, not to mention the funny pictures reminding the same things on the LED monitor right above the cyclorama.

Despite all the disturbances, Chan Yi Jing’s performance accompanied by and going well with the music played by wind instrument in ‘Feng: from “Chi" [sic] to Wind’ was breath-taking. His swift yet powerful movements induced the imagination of the audience of the flowing of qi. The sudden fall of the dancer underneath the stage along with the halt of the music raised audience’s expectation of more stunning dances to come.

Honestly, what’s next was no more impressive than what had already been shown – the choreography, as well as the lighting. At the beginning, the lighting was minimal and sharp as the movements. It simply made the dances more vivid. However, the repetitive contrasts of colours went cheesy as the consecutive repetition of line of movements.

The visuals were generally terrific in fact. The galloping of the clouds projected on the layered white cloths was heavenly, especially so when the dancers free-walked in the clouds. The projection of the ink dancing in the water was also poetic, although I find little association with the theme wind or qi (though it ironically matches with the theme of this very part of the dance – ‘Gone with the wind’.) I was expecting that it might be providing some links to Mui’s piece about water, but either it was too much of my expectation, or the link was missed due to the cancellation of the performance at the foyer during the intermission. Xing Liang’s flying to end the piece was certainly sacred and angelic but it was also pitiful that the usual lustre of such an outstanding dancer was not shown.

Shui
One can hardly not associate the opening scene with Lin Hwai-min’s Moon Water or the choreographer’s own signature piece, Awaking in a Dream. Either it’s because Mr. Lin used the mirror with water too well, or the analogy of water with the reflection of mirror too cliché that I could not shake away the preconception of Moon Water for quite some while until the turn of the mirror showing the water pipes let me realise that Mui has also successfully stepped out her previous shadow.

Despite the change of tone and style, Mui continued to resort to extensive use of props. This time metal balls in ‘Tears’ are her objects. It rings a bell that the metal balls are like raindrops or mercury transforming from the icy mirror, solid state of water. However, the metal balls are not easy at all for the dancers to toy with – it is yet more difficult for the audience in a 900-seat auditorium to apprehend the microscopic manoeuvre.

Likewise in ‘Swirl’, no matter how hard the dancer (Wu Yi-san) was making swirls with the water in the basin made of clear glass, and even though the swirls were projected, it was like storm in a teacup – the stage effect was far too minute. The idea of real time projection of what’s happening in water was not new. The South ASLI Group (南群舞子) had the same trick quite some years ago. There was nothing wrong with the borrowed wits, but it just built up audience’s expectation of how this wit would be related to the theme.

Later a female dancer (Wu Ying-san), in disguise of a goldfish danced in the basin whilst singing. It was indecipherable what this meant and how it was linked to the theme other than the association of water in an aquarium, especially when the song-singing became hysterical in the end for some reasons the audience might not know of.

One cannot go without mentioning the technical defects. The sudden lights up and the projection showing ‘SUPER DVD’ bothered the audience to a serious extent. It waws even doubtful as to whether the moist on two-sixths of the mirror was intentional or defective.

Dance is a special art form. Beautifully choreographed movements can please the eyes of the audience. Modern dance is appealing because it adds meanings to those movements. However, when both choreography and meaning are not communicated to the audience, the artists may easily fall into their own self-indulgence.

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