About #DANCELESS complex

#DANCELESS complex

Organised by Unlock Dancing Plaza, #DANCELESS complex is a contemporary dance festival aiming to expand the boundaries of contemporary dance aesthetics and contexts in Hong Kong, address gaps in the local performing arts scene, and construct new perspectives beyond dance institutions and aesthetics. Overseas and local groups are invited to perform and organise a series of exchange activities to foster dialogue. We aim to promote the development of a more diversified ecology of dance in Hong Kong through performances and various idea-exchanging activities.

The concept of #DANCELESS was introduced by then Artistic Director Ong Yong Lock in 2015. By examining mainstream dance training and aesthetics, we hope to develop another way (or multiple ways) of viewing dance, including methods and thoughts on using and connecting bodies. We want to bring dance into more people’s lives in different forms and appearances. Besides referring to dance, #DANCELESS grows new imaginations from established impressions of local dance, incorporating ground-breaking performative works and interpreting contemporary dance through unconventional choreographies to create a project with more diversity and fluidity.

As for the name #DANCELESS complex, we aim to reposition the project by opting for the word “complex” (events happening in a duration) instead of the usual “festival”. The project will go beyond showcasing works to incorporate a series of interlocking programmes, dialogue platforms and residency projects, organising the experience of encountering contemporary dance into a constellation of connections and interactions. This is to break away from seeing the viewer-performer relationship as binary poles and expanding into other distances and dimensions—like opposing mirrors, as well as the connections, extensions and dragging of a network. In this way, we see the complex as a flowing field of knowledge and experience production. The relationship between works, choreographies, and the public will grow organically along an intricate structure with encounters and dialogues that are more extensive in spatial and temporal terms, leading to a more profound exchange between the local dance community and the public.

The planning of the complex leads our team to make practical reflections on the relationship between the existing system and the ecology of local performing arts. For example, in the face of consumerism, how can the works presented in the programme break away from becoming goods? Can the complex trigger the gathering of various groups? By bringing together a series of works with different contexts, issues, creative forms and aesthetics, the complex will develop a longer-term and more sustainable collaborative relationship by reflecting on the relevance of contemporary dance in the local scene, its potential to engage in different artistic fields, and its mode of connection with overseas institutions and artists.

Biennial Experiment of Performance Exchange

Held in 2021, the first edition of the #DANCELESS complex focused on the methodology of choreography, with five overseas works invited for presentation. A residency program was organised to supplement the discussion and exploration of choreographic approaches in the local dance ecology and introduce other perspectives on dance creation to interact with local dance. The pandemic, however, forced the exchanges and screenings to be held online instead, and the focus was then placed on local artists with the production of five local programmes that included unpublished works. These programmes included the premieres of two versions of Body Works by Ong Yong Lock, Gigi Yang and Chen Wu Kang; Drink and Dance,; a newly commissioned work by Chan Wai Lok; I’m Only My Body? by two emerging choreographers, Holmes Cheung and Paula Wong; as well as re-runs and presentations of residency programmes of three local art groups in Relatively Live and Borderline.

This edition of the complex will commission and invite overseas and local choreographers to present their works, including experienced artists and creative choreographers early in their careers. Throughout the complex, we aim to showcase the aesthetics and concerns of creators from different cultures and career stages. Various exchange programmes, including workshops, residency programs, studio showings, performance writing projects and independent study platforms, will also be held to respond to, extend and trigger more dialogues about dance and physical performance.

Joseph Lee (#DANCELESS complex 2023 Curator)