The Uprising Practice in Dance Dramaturgy
Numerous dance productions involve dramaturgy, whether it is a stand-alone position or choreographers infusing the concept of dramaturgy into their creative process. In recent years, there have been various methods of exploration and practice, which have extended into the perspectives of arts festivals and programme producers. The complexity of society, culture, dance language, space, media, technology and other aspects in the contemporary context has elevated the role and concept of dramaturgy. The talk and roundtable invite dance artists, dramaturges and producers to share their experiences and envision future developments.
Talk: Dramaturgical Practice in Various Contexts
In recent years, the concept of “dramaturgy” has become increasingly active in local applications and discussions. Dramaturgy can be understood as seeking a more dynamic system of the inner flow of performance-making process through various methods, such as observation, questioning, organising, researching, ignifying and facilitating. It generates dialogue among different creative positions, organically exploring the development and presentation of works, and responding to and advancing the industry’s ecological development from a holistic perspective. While many creative positions may not necessarily be named as “dramaturg”, most of them involve the implementation of such concepts in their practices.
Moderated by Bernice Chan Kwok-wai, General Manager of International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong), four speakers with diverse backgrounds including creative director, producer, dance company dramaturg, director and choreographer, will share their different approaches in the professional practice, reflecting practices on the body in dance to envision the development of a dance company, employing dramaturgical thinking to programme planning, fostering dramaturgical thinking at cross-department practice, and the process of dramaturgical strategies in dance and interdisciplinary work. The discussion provides insights for audience to the contemporary dance scene in Hong Kong, encompassing both bodily aesthetics and producing ecology.
12.11.2023 (Sun) 5pm
The Room, Freespace, West Kowloon Cultural District
Anna CHENG – Producer, Performing Arts (Dance), West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
Anna Cheng has rich experience in producing and curating numerous local and international dance productions, tours, festivals, research and development platforms, cultural exchange networks, and audience engagement projects. Having worked in different arts and cultural organisations, ranging from theatre company, arts centre, arts festival, arts development council, to independent producer and cultural district, from the perspective of curation and programming while considering the objective evolution of the ecosystem, how does she contemplate the sustainable development of the arts industry and collaborate with different stakeholders? What are the strategies and challenges?
Ivanhoe LAM – Independent Interdisciplinary Director / Choreographer
Ivanhoe is one of Hong Kong’s most sought-after theatre choreographers today. With training in both theatre and dance, he is a versatile performance maker. Lam belongs to a new breed of creative force, whose theatrical dance work explores differences and similarities across cultures and disciplines. He believes art’s vocation to unveil the truth in life and he is dedicated to exploring a universal performance language (physical, visual and sound) to inspire different backgrounds of audience. How does he apply this dramaturgical mindset in his creation? How does he consider the readability and performativity of interdisciplinary performances? How does the role of dramaturg flow through different creative practice?
Melissa LEUNG – Company Dramaturg, City Contemporary Dance Company
Melissa Leung is the first Company Dramaturg of City Contemporary Dance Company (CCDC), which is the first local dance company in Hong Kong to formally integrate dramaturgy into its organisational structure. How does the internal and external parties understand the nature and role of a company dramaturg? Apart from constructing the dance work, how does the role of dramaturg foster the collaboration among different departments? As the first practitioner, Leung will dispel the myth of dramaturgy and raise further questions to envision the company’s exploration.
ONG Yong Lock Creative Director (Public Participatory), Unlock Dancing Plaza
Transitioning from a full-time dancer to the founder of his own dance company, Ong Yong Lock holds a distinct perspective on bodily aesthetics. In recent years, his dance company has been aspiring the concept of “#DANCELESS”, advocating for a departure from institutionalised dance techniques and emphasising the unique qualities of the body. Meanwhile, Ong also collaborates with dramaturgs in his works. As an artist, how does he position this role? As a curator, how does he question the definition of dance through engaging participants with a wide range of age group? What kind of dramaturgical thinking do these experience reflect?
Moderator: Bernice CHAN – General Manager, International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong)
Roundtable: Dramaturgical Practice in Dance Making
Do people have the same understanding about dramaturgy? How is dramaturgy practiced and understood? The Roundtable focuses on the experience exchange among practitioners and artists within the field. Five speakers will share their experiences through various case studies and reflect the current dance creation environment and ecosystem in Hong Kong. With differences in techniques, content, models and production structures, they will explore the corresponding thoughts and strategies employed. These reflections aim to establish connections between the dance community and the current social context, while encouraging artists and producers to envision the future with a broader perspective. The Roundtable will be moderated by Melissa Leung, Company Dramaturg of CCDC.
18.11.2023 (Sat) 10am
The Room, Freespace, West Kowloon Cultural District
Language: Cantonese or Putonghua, with simultaneous interpretation in English
Exclusively for ‘Festival Pass’ Holders
Bobo LEE – Producer, Performing Arts (Theatre), West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
Lee emphasises the importance of Research and Development (R&D) and as a curator and producer, she advocates for the holistic nature of the creative process, aiming to provide a platform for the new generation of artists. In recent years, she has curated the ‘Future of Performance Series’, which explores alternative forms of performing arts by inviting theatre creators to collaborate with artists from various disciplines. She has also co-founded and curated “TechBox”, an interdisciplinary experimental platform in partnership with the School of Theatre and Entertainment Arts of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. “TechBox” facilitates collaborations between media artists and young theatre designers, encouraging research and experimentation to explore the diverse possibilities of integrating technology with performing arts. The productions of “TechBox” are open to various performance frameworks and form.
Joanna LEE – Lecturer/ Researcher/ Editor/ Art critic
Joanna Lee navigates through various roles as a lecturer, researcher, editor, art critic, producer, translator, independent producer and learner. Regardless of the role, she carries a clear sense of inquiry, exploring what “dance” means in the Hong Kong context and what kind of critical thinking is lacking in the dance creation environment. In this Roundtable, Lee will focus on the unique experience of the production The Forgiving Trees in the ‘Tai Kwun Performing Arts Season: SPOTLIGH 2023T’. She will share the conceptual framework of the production, the ideology she brought to the creative team, and the execution methods involved.
Joseph LEE – Artistic Director, Unlock Dancing Plaza
Joseph Lee is a choreographer, performer and curator, currently serving as the Artistic Director of Unlock Dancing Plaza. He focuses on overlooked aspects of the local contemporary dance scene and expands creative perspectives through curated projects using the body as the primary medium. His curatorship emphasises knowledge production, preservation, and dissemination within the creative process. He facilitates dialogues across cultural contexts and art forms and explores the body’s creative potential in community practices. In his personal artistic practice, Lee explores themes of popular culture, symbols, representations, and the intersections between the body, dance, and imagery. He employs various performance strategies to create ambiguous spaces that invite audiences to re-examine familiar and unfamiliar experiences. His creative mediums include live performances, videos, written texts, theatre, and alternative spaces.
Janice POON – Senior Lecturer (Playwriting and Dramaturgy) and Academic Project Officer, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
Janice Poon is the Discipline Leader of both Playwriting and Dramaturgy major programmes. She inaugurated, develops and teaches both the MFA and BFA major programmes in Dramaturgy at the HKAPA. She is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Hong Kong Dramatists, a veteran theatre artist and cultural practitioner actively engaged in curating cultural exchange projects. She is dedicated to script writing, interdisciplinary and cross-cultural creations, and addressing the human condition within social issues. Some of her prominent dramaturgy works includes Sang Jijia’s Mr. Blank by CCDC and Yang Yuntao’s Nezha: Untold Solitude by Hong Kong Dance Company, in which she provided contextual and conceptual framework for the creators, while bridging the gap between the work and the audience’s spectatorship experience.
Wayson POON – Independent choreographer/ Dance Artist
From 2010 to 2014, Wayson Poon relocated to Beijing and established the dance company The Body Acts. Since 2014, he has worked as an independent artist in creation, performance, research and development as well as education in Europe and Asia. Poon is dedicated to exploring and developing a language of movement that is unique to everyone’s body. Guided by Qi from Taoist scriptures, and the concept of the Liquid Body and Five Rhythms, his creations combine oriental spirit and western methodology to decipher the essence of the body. His recent work, PHONATE, continues his exploration of the body and spirituality. In recent years, he has actively toured to different regions of the world and participated in various dance festivals, bringing his perspective on the body and his works to diverse audiences.
Moderator: Melissa LEUNG – Company Dramaturg, CCDC
Hong Kong Arts Development Council fully supports freedom of artistic expression. The views and opinions expressed in this project do not represent the stand of the Council.