Hong Kong Soul, a new platform to showcase the diverse range of HK dance and performance, launches with three programmes at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hong Kong Soul, a new platform to showcase the diverse range of HK dance and performance, launches with three programmes at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

At a time of dynamic change, Hong Kong-based dance company TS Crew is launching Hong Kong Soul, a new platform to communicate the radical creativity, diversity and talent of the Hong Kong contemporary dance and performance scene and connect it to a wider global audience. This summer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, its first edition showcases three programmes from some of most exciting artists working in the city right now.

There will be an iconoclastic remake on Kung Fu and the Lion dance with beatboxing, martial arts, tricking and parkour (TS Crew’s No Dragon No Lion at C aurora); intimate life-and-death stories of human beings, cats and cities by an iconic 63-year-old choreographer/dancer (Cheuk Yin Mui’s Diary VII: The Story of…at C aurora); and three ferocious bursts of politically-infused, cutting-edge contemporary movement (The (Hong) Kong Girls triple bill of work by PK Wong, Alice Ma and Justyne Li at Summerhall).

All three programmes run from 2 to 13 August at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (with previews at RADA in London on 29 and 30 July).

In 2021, the year that Hongkongers started ‘drifting to different places’, TS Crew and its artistic director Hugh Cho decided to create a contemporary dance-circus show, based on their cultural roots, as a gift to their fellow citizens. The resulting work – No Dragon No Lion – deconstructs the Lion Dance, a deeply traditional ritual form of performing arts in Hong Kong, beloved for its fixed dance motifs, stunts, soaring jumps and flips. The eight exceptional performers transform the Chinese opera classic into a thrilling performance incorporating beatboxing, martial arts, tricking and parkour. These physical and mental drifters take their audience with them into a new environment and unfamiliar land. And, through revisiting their traditional cultures, they build new meaning and something they can own.

A studio version of the show at last year’s Festival was described as “a phenomenal performance by a talented group and a must-see.”*

Now 63, dancer and choreographer Cheuk Yin Mui started her Diary project in 1986, developing it into a series of intimate and autobiographical works that act as a danced journal, both for herself and for the city. In this latest edition Mui, who is one of Hong Kong’s most iconic dancers and choreographers, imagines herself as a feral cat stalking the streets of the city she loves. She and her feline companions tiptoe through the moonlit streets and down memory lane. In the dim light, Mui’s form casts myriad shadows while the cats’ shrewd gazes seem to penetrate beyond the city’s shifting ephemeral nature as their delicate steps and gentle moves caress the wounds suffered by the fading city.
This solo performance finds subtle parallels between the feline traits and Mui’s philosophy in life and gently explores ideas of home, country, diaspora, and emigration.

Originally a misogynist label for women in Hong Kong, the term ‘Kong Girl’ has been reclaimed and now takes on new meanings. In this ferocious and politically-infused triple bill The (Hong) Kong Girls, three female choreographers use their different perspectives to tell their stories and show their personal Kong Girl identity.

In Bird-Watching, PK Wong provokes the audience with her naked and liberated body. With her idiosyncratic and aggressive movements, Wong challenges the traditional male gaze on the female body.

In Wu, Alice Ma tells a story of darkness and imperfection. A woman hides behind the façade of her pretty face, perfect shape, lovely smile and Barbie Doll voice and wonders whether she has free will.

After years of suppression in her home town and a host of unresolved emotions, Justyne Li transforms her own body from ballerina to body of resistance in The Shift. If the human body is a carrier of the culture of a city, what is Justyne’s body carrying?

Hong Kong Soul is a contemporary platform established in 2023 by TS Crew to showcase the diversity and unique talents of Hong Kong artists in a collective way. It is a live performance catalogue intended to provide a comprehensive image of Hong Kong dance scene and connect it to a wider international audience. As well as showcasing live performance, Hong Kong Soul serves as a facilitator – to cultivate the idea and cultural exchange between Hong Kong and international artists; a mediator – to connect Hong Kong artists with people and organisations; and a promoter – to export Hong Kong arts and cultural creations internationally. Hong Kong Soul plans to expand each year and partner with more artists from different arts backgrounds to strengthen the bonds between Hong Kong and the international arts scene as well as the positions of the arts and culture of Hong Kong on the world stage. Visit https://www.hongkongsoul.com to learn more.