Besides an impulse cinema trip to see Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith (which seemed to leave lots of anchors for a bunch of sequels), there was only one reason I was in Hong Kong on Friday. Phillip Adams has been in Hong Kong for the last few weeks, along with awesome Balletlab dancer Rachel Ogle at 城市當代舞蹈團 CCDC. Friday night was the premiere of his new work, Stranger Than Fiction, a double bill with resident choreographer and former Guangdong Modern Dance Company member Xing Liang.
The Hong Kong Cultural Centre Studio looks alot like Melbourne’s Malthouse, with a stage big enough to make dance look like a performance and not just a rehearsal room showing. There’s an ongoing fixation with white in Phillip’s work, and referencing in part Amplification the entire set was a white room, split by an emergency florescent orange band. Another obsession has been folding. Many of Phil’s pieces have been expositions of Deleuze’s The Fold, one of the most fascinating essays on the Baroque and Liebniz, and also one of my perennial carry-everywhere reads.
So, to the dancing. Stranger than Fiction is a move away from the Balletlab wierdness, into a sparse, geometric abyss of endless collapsing and blossoming of bodies in a void. The end-point of such microscopic and corporeal folding would reach down to a cellular level and see the bodies metamorphose like chrysalises into the infinite emergent combinations of the human body and its parts. Not simply dance, but an exegesis on fleeing towards the possible.
One of the strongest influences I’ve seen in his more formal works was – coincidentally – George Lucas’ early and best film THX 1138. The white vacuum of the prison, is devoid of location, a whiteout of geometry, where even up and down are collectively subjective expressions of placement instead of fixed, immutable statements. The third section of this work, an infinitely repetitious deconstruction of a single phrase is, like the singular artistic coherence, and qualitative cinematic leap in THX 1138 what makes Phillip the most remarkable and significant choreographer in the Asian region.
Phillip is the complete antithesis to all the self-indulgent, waffling, incoherent rubbish that passes itself off as dance, which bears absolutely no understanding of the linguistics of movement, and mindlessly strings one random and meaningless slice of motion after another, a garbage heap of the human body. He understands it’s simple, like ballet itself is simple, nothing more than a demonstration of Euclidean geometry. He also understands that within a single movement there are more possibilities than galaxies in the universe.
For the most part the CCDC dancers got it too. It’s one thing to mimic or recreate the movement, it’s a fundamentally other thing to understand what you’re actually doing. Rachel, who’s been with Balletlab for a while now and knows Phil’s aesthetic like a second skin looks completely certain of what she’s doing. She’s awesome. Strong, clear, and almost luxuriantly relaxed no matter how infuriatingly exposed and calamitous it gets. Along with Lilly Tsai, they just tore up the room.
So, I left with a smile on my face, especially from when the chandelier descended in a vertiginous moment of genius. CCDC at it’s best, incredible dancers, beautiful, intelligent lighting, magnificent choreography, a sound design worth every second, and a full house going wild.