Review by Kate Gaul
From China “(Hong) Kong Girls” is a triple bill of three Hong Kong female choreographer-dancers: PK Wong, Alice Ma and Justyne Li. "Kong Girl" was once a negative label for non-normative women in Hong Kong. As time has passed with different political and social changes the title has been reclaimed and, "Kong Girl" has turned from a negative label to a positive one. Three female choreographers use totally different approaches to tell their own stories and to show their identity of being a "Kong Girl" with multi-perspectives.
These perspectives are diverse and all grapple with the idea of bodily control and agency.
PK Wong’s “Bird- watching” explores the freedom of the body and desire. Wong uses faceless nudity to arrest us with the presence of the body and at times the movements are terrifying. The length of the piece is challenging in a good way and has the audience move from connecting with any eroticism to considering the power and presence of the female body.
Justyne Li’s “Bleed-through” is inspired by the way in a body is “programmed” by external instructions and therefore, movement is dictated from elsewhere. Her movements are jagged and puppet-like. It acknowledges that individually we can see and feel the body, and yet we are not aware of it. It is an oppositional idea and through this “Bleed-through” cuts to the core of structural violence on women’s bodies.
Alice Ma’s “Wu” sees the jagged disintegration of a life-sized music box dancer – a Black Swan-esque fracturing of body and psyche that builds to a genuinely unsettling final image. The work is inspired by Wu’s feelings of ugliness and the need to deal with those thoughts. This work is perhaps the most conventional from a visual point-of-view but that does not diminish in any way it’s plea for change.
Each piece is stylistically very different. The hour-long contemplation on bodies, ownership and acceptance is powerful. There is not attempt to make this more palatable and we cannot look away. “(Hong) Kong Girls” is very much a call to arms to smash stereotypes, a focus on resistance and a chance to recalibrate thoughts on objectification and the body.
“(Hong) Kong Girls” is at the pointy-end of contemporary dance at Edinburgh Fringe and I am pleased to have encountered it.