Hong Kong (2007)
Strangers on Tong Chong Street
“Students step up to dance with the professionals… the site-specific Urban Dance performance at TaiKoo Place in Quarry Bay reflects elements of the environment” – South China Morning Post
Strangers on Tong Chong Street (2007), by Tom Pearson and Zach Morris, explore what it means for a group of outsiders to descend upon a site and gradually affix themselves to its geography. Charting a course from an ostentatious arrival, through a cautious navigation of unknown territory, and finally to a state of comfortable activity, the work was often biographical of the process and of the individuals while examining notions of strangeness. The architecture of Tong Chong Street was familiar to its daily inhabitants, but it was the performers in the relation to this which establish a dynamic tension, pose a dramatic question, scramble the status-quo.
Hailing from New York, Tom Pearson and Zach Morris sought to find the historical and contemporary commonalities between their home and Hong Kong. In both cases, New York and Hong Kong have always been changing, dynamic, mercantile, and maritime – where denizens gathered in the interest of achieving success, sparking perpetual innovation due to each cities’ unique position as a threshold. They felt this is especially relevant to Taikoo Place – a newly reinvented site built upon an effervescent past.
The work began when a motley group arrives, clad in garments simultaneously evoking fashions of the late Industrial Age and contemporary urban couture–in shades of sugary blues, whites, and grays. As they moved about the street, their relationships to the space and to one another developed and unfurled.
In frequently poignant and often humorous moments of group locomotion or ritualized urban routine, frequently poignant and often humorous moments of group locomotion or ritualized urban routine, there was the familiar feeling of waiting with certainty, moving with clear but separate intentions, of short gestures, and succinct expressions. Music was played live on a portable melodica that is operated by an iron worker’s bellows, and the score (both live and recorded) evokes cabaret, industrial sound, music box, and pop. By the time the piece resolved and the individuals had settled into their surroundings, the performers seemed less a part of the past and more of a hybrid between past and present while the strange became more familiar, for both the performers and the audience.
Collaborative artists and performers included Donna Ahmadi, Elizabeth Carena, Zach Morris, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Tom Pearson, Tara O’Con, and Mayuna Shimizu. Costumes were designed by Zach Morris in consultation with Karen Young, and music was by Kris Bauman.
About the Workshops
November 27/30, 2007
Swire Island East “Urban Dance Festival” – Dance Master Class
Venue : YAF Studio
Time: 7:30pm – 9:00pm
YAF brought Third Rail Projects from New York City to join the Swire Island East Urban Dance Festival in November/December 2007. Apart from performing an original piece of site-specific dance work at the festival, their artistic directors also be conducted site-specific dance workshops for choreographers and dance artists.
In these hour and a half workshops, multi-disciplinary artists Tom Pearson and Zach Morris led participants through their process of creating site-specific movement works. A grab-bag of choreographic tactics focused on working with the architecture of a site to pull images and meaning from its components. Issues of developing work for the public sphere were included: techniques for researching a site and exploring its possibilities in movement; finding hidden meaning in a space and developing methods to amplify it; and experimenting with the most effective methods of capturing and holding an audience’s attention in a public setting.
Visit our Blog for a Diary, Photos, and Video Clips of the process.
- U Magazine: “For us, site-specific dance is about getting art out of the theater and gallery and putting it into the public realm, about using performance to illuminate urban space which is often taken for granted or overlooked. It's an opportunity for art to really engage with "real world" architecture, topography, environments, and most importantly, the communities who inhabit them.” – Zach Morris, U Magazine | Read the full article
- The South China Morning Post: “Students step up to dance with the professionals… the site-specific Urban Dance performance at TaiKoo Place in Quarry Bay reflects elements of the environment.” – The South China Morning Post | Read the full article
- TVB8: “... It's really about investigating the architecture, the history, the cultural ideals that are inherent in a particular place and bringing those into the work, developing your movement vocabulary from those elements...” – Tom Pearson, TVB8 | Watch the episode here
Support for this project provided by:
Strangers on Tong Chong Street was commissioned by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation for the Swire Island East Urban Dance Festival, 2007 and was co-presented by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation and Swire Island East. This project was also made possible by Materials for the Arts/New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Sanitation; and by Third Rail Projects, with support from individual and institutional donors.