ODE TO THE SILK ROAD | Hong Kong, Kwai Tsing Theatre

In this celebration of the multiplicity of Xinjiang in northwest China, twelve short pieces by a variety of top choreographers explore the music and dance cultures of the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Tajiks. The standard of dancing is exceptional, as to be expected with Hong Kong Dance Company, and the whole cast appear to be fully engaged with the material, enjoying every festive moment.

A particular highlight comes in Yang Yuntao’s “Lift Your Veil”: a sensuous, romantic duet with the male role in particular (Hou Xuchen) showcasing tremendous skill. A live Dap Drum (Jason Leung) accompanies Xie Yin’s claustrophobic “Daolang”. Dancing with his own Dap Drum, choreographer Ding Wei’s male solo “A Young Fellow” (Tong Chi-man) performs an aerial splits four times in a row.

The festal costumes (Bacchus Lee, Wang Aixin, Zhang Li, Yang Xiaohua) and pre-recorded music (Tse Tai-shun) highlight the strong Slavic, Indian and Arabic influences. The party scenes are full of “Russian”-looking leaping around on bended knees, while the traditional “Bowl Dance” (choreographed by Pasha Umer) has the entire audience gasping as the chorus of women head-bobble while balancing a stack of bowls on their heads.

The Chinese government is currently rounding up the Uyghur Muslims into mysterious “rehabilitation centres”, many of whom never return. In the face of this frightening, totalitarian erasure, Hong Kong Dance Company are doing something very brave to showcase the breadth of history and human expression in China: they’re having a party.

For five performances only until 24 February 2019.

The Prickle - About transp