MAZU THE SEA GODDESS 媽祖 | Hong Kong, Cultural Centre

Hong Kong Dance Company’s sweeping, narrative epic on the origin myth of Mazu The Sea Goddess has been filmed live in an empty Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and made available for online streaming. With a brand new, pre-recorded musical score (Chen Ruoping), Yan Hongxia’s direction and choreography (with Zhang Yuan) is mesmeric from beginning to end.

In the title role (as humble villager Lin Mo becomes Mazu herself), Pan Lingjuan is world-class. In addition to the demanding oceanic athletics of the choreography, Pan ably conveys the pain and anguish of her character’s journey. Like other HKDC shows, the ensemble is given a huge amount of stage time, including an all-male ocean ensemble in blue skirts, as Lin Mo begins to discover the wonder of the ocean in the first half. The children’s ensemble deserve particular mention for their amazing skill in the ensemble village scenes.

The ocean is depicted many ways: the drifting of wavy silks under blue light to represent the ocean may seem trite in description, but thanks to detailed and expert choreography, the results are absolutely wonderful to behold, especially as the holder of the silk changes hands invisibly, to dramatic effect.

The show has been been beautifully and artfully filmed, with elegant crossfades between narrow and wide shots that help us to appreciate the simple and expressive set (Jan Wong) and lighting (Yeung Tsz Yan), as well as the performers themselves. It is only poignant to think how much we are missing by not being able to witness the spectacle live.

Available to stream online until 21 January 2021.

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