When I told a friend I was going to watch a Chinese dance group address the issue of urban angst on Saturday night, he said, “But don’t the Chinese do urbanity better than anyone?”
If that is true – and the sheer scale of Chinese cities suggests that it is – then perhaps they also do urban angst better than anyone too. Certainly it is a topic of which Chinese choreographers never tire. Within the last few months, I have watched Low Shee Hoe’s City.Thoughts with dancers hemmed in by white briefcases, and Kathyn Tan’s Urban Suite merging grotesque, comic and romantic views of city life. At the Singapore Arts Festival I watched Hong Kong dance film Rainy Days and Mondays which depicted a Monday morning office scene morphing into fantastic wish fulfillment, and Sherman Ong’s When the End of Winter is Almost Spring, with its long languorous shots of Singaporean HDB flats. At the Indonesia Dance Festival a few weeks ago, Hung Tsai-His, a young choreographer from Taiwan University of the Arts, presented The Office, a group work with dancers clad in black and white work wear.