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Andy Wong

Well-known local dancer and choreographer Andy Wong, who’s also co-founder of the group DanceArt, sits down with Leanne Mirandilla to talk about the Hong Kong arts scene and what it’s like to find your dance soulmate.

By Leanne Mirandilla | Oct 20, 2011

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  • Andy Wong

HK Magazine: Can you tell us how you got the inspiration for “Dance Forest” (a contemporary performance about interaction and perspective that will soon be showing at the Fringe)?
Andy Wong: I knew [my co-performer] Taiju Matsumoto ten years ago. We met in 1999 in Philadelphia at an international dance festival. He danced for another company from England and I worked for DanceArt Hong Kong. I watched him dance, he watched me dance. In 2000, I invited him over to Hong Kong to my company and we started working together every year. Seven years ago, I asked, “do you want to dance with me? How about for ten years?” Since then we’ve [had] the show [Dance Forest] in Hong Kong every year. A couple of years ago we started to bring the show to Thailand, Singapore, Korea and then back to Hong Kong and Japan.

HK: How did your relationship with Taiju Matsumoto change after more than 10 years of dancing together?
AW: When we dance together, we both have a certain dynamic and connection that other people don’t have. We talk about things like life and death, family, personal issues. Through touching and movement, we actually got more intimate. We’re not lovers, we’re not family, we’re not friends, we’re not colleagues—we’re sort of like dance soul mates. When you find someone like that in your life, you feel safe, proud and satisfied, and when you’re happy, the process of making an artwork is very rewarding. It’s kind of like having a honeymoon every year. Usually we see dance just as a performance: after one or two hours, it’s gone. But for us… there’s an audience member who’s 50-something who has been with us the whole time. Our audience is waiting for the show every year. Some of the audience here goes to Japan, and the Japanese audience comes to Hong Kong. It’s like a living exhibit. You see these two dances that are evolving every year, the changes in the auditorium. The audience likes seeing old friends, they like to bring back some sweet memories, they’re also trying to make up a story of their own.

HK: So you actually became close to some of the members of the audience?
AW: Taiju Matsumoto is a very shy gentleman, so he didn’t want to talk about anything personal at the beginning. Every time when we had [someone from the media], he was hiding, because he believes that there’s nothing to talk about. If there’s something to talk about, then it’s not dance. But actually, this year, when I was in Japan, I said, “Please can we have a conversation with the audience?” He said yes, and he was forced to be the translator for me. He started to talk a lot in Japanese really fast. The audience really enjoyed it because they wanted to know more about the process of making the piece. The inspiration that we bring to the audience is crucial. Usually [dancers] just want to sell tickets—[they] don’t care about the relationship after the show. But for me, my audience has been all the way with me since I was young. I wanted to build up a theater culture so we learn to really appreciate art.

HK: What do you think about the overall arts culture in Hong Kong?
AW: I work around the world. I’ve been dancing professionally for 25 years. Even though it’s very commercial in Hong Kong, you can make a choice. I can skip the Hong Kong Arts Festival and do the Fringe Festival. I can do something on the street, in a shopping mall, in a hospital, even in a jail, if I like. Now, I’ve started to learn how to paint, I sing, I made my own album, I started to act in theaters, and I do TV commercials. But if I live in other countries, it’s very hard to access these things. Everything has its own boundary. But in Hong Kong, if you’re creative and daring, you can bring everything together and create your own style.

Catch “Dance Forest 2011: Parallel Horizon” which runs from Nov 17-19 at the Fringe Club.

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