Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Setting their sights on New York, New York

Posted by Kimberly on March 10, 2008

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
March 10, 2008 (985 words)

For two lucky local choreographers, one audition on Saturday has resulted in a three-week intensive workshop come August in New York with the Amy Marshall Dance Company, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Macao Cultural Centre.
Both Kuok Soi Peng (Candy) and Ho Nga Sze (Stella) intend to make the most of their time in the Big Apple working with Amy and her dancers to come up with a brand new choreographic piece which will then be shown to Macau audiences in October.
The Cultural Centre will be providing the funds for the return trip and meal expenses.
While 13 potentials chose to apply for the program, the auditions saw ten people attend, who were then asked to choose either to improvise or select a dance sequence. Both Stella and Candy chose the former, settling on music they felt allowed them to free their abilities.
“I saw a lot of good dancers and everybody chose to improvise which I thought was terrific,” said Amy, who was born in Japan and now heads the 8-year-old dance company.
“You really get to know someone’s personality and ability and thought processes [thorough this method]” she added.
She believed that a dancer used a lot more energy when they improvised.
Following the dance audition, Amy then sat with each choreographer, asking them a series of questions designed to provide her a broader picture of their goals and ability to contribute ideas.
“I asked what inspired them, what they could bring to my choreography and to America and whether they had researched my company,” she said.
She added that she’d received some good responses with everyone coming up with “great ideas” although it was eventually Stella and Candy with whom she bonded.
Not that the two are new-comers to Macau’s dance stage: after all, Stella had her work shown at last year’s Fringe Festival while Candy had shown her own work just prior to that.
While the opportunity to travel to New York and experience all that Amy’s company is able to offer the two of them, it is what follows, in October, that should excite local students of dance.
Over two days, October 1 and 2, Amy shall return with her dance troupe, as well as Stella and Candy, and conduct a series of workshops, or “outreach” as she refers to them.
During this process, students that sign up from various schools are able to participate and learn, before eventually perhaps being chosen to perform at the local production, occurring on October 19.
The whole idea of collaboration came about with an initial meeting between Amy and the Cultural Centre.
“It’s a challenge for me to take myself out of the box, said Amy, adding that, with Stella and Candy, “I felt they were people I would enjoy working with.
“I hope they will share with me so I can understand their creative processes and from there we can get some ideas,” she said.
For Candy, the trip and experience will provide an opportunity for communication.
“It’s possible we can create a blog to share our ideas,” she said, adding that perhaps an online diary would show people what they experienced during their time in the United States.
Amy agreed, adding that they would be documenting the whole process, which in her opinion, was sometimes the more interesting aspect.
Asked what they all felt would make this experience any different to other collaborations, Amy believed it was mainly a cultural issue.
“We are all influenced differently,” she added.
Candy agreed that while the language of dance was the same, “the way we do it is different.
“Amy said that in New York, everything is done very fast and that’s one of my concerns because we are always working slowly [in Macau],” she added.
Both Stella and Candy agree that their dance styles are different, with Stella’s more classical and Chines based, while Candy’s tends towards Malay and modern style.
The two choreographers will join Amy and her dance troupe in new York on July 26, and begin a 9:00 am till 5:00 pm intensive dance program, which is part of Amy’s summer intensive course.
“We do yoga, ballet and I work on choreography with them and they learn my repertoire.
“It’s a lot of information for the brain and a lot of work for the body,” said Amy.
Both dancers agreed that this provided a wonderful opportunity for them to improve their choreography and bring something back to Macau, as both of them have their own local dance companies.
For Stella, it’s Violet Dance Company, while Candy’s is called Comuna de Pedra.
For Candy, it was a means of developing Macau’s own personality and idea of modern dance.
“I think we’re working on it, there are a lot of ideas and we will get there,” she believed.
Of course both choreographers made known their wish to visit New York with Candy adding “I’ve been looking for a chance to stay there for a long time.”
As for their styles of music, while Stella prefers a more free style, Amy’s and Candy’s tends to be percussive, with deep beats and strong rhythm.
Amy agreed that there could be the possibility of Chinese music being used in the planned choreography, which she saw an a “conglomeration of different music.”
Modern dance in Macau is still growing its own audience but all three hope that this sort of collaborative project will allow for an expansion of that.
“A lot of theatres will only bring in what they can sell but that way paves for a lazy audience,” said Amy who added that this way [the collaboration] allowed an audience to grow and learn.
In future, Amy admitted that there was every chance of further collaborations with other countries and cultures, perhaps even her native Japan.
“Any country, any culture. I’m always interested in working with new cultures,” she said.

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