Words by Maria Elena Ricci.
Justyne Li, WONG Pik Kei and Alice Ma are three of the talented artists from Hong Kong performing in the Hong Kong Soul platform in London and Edinburgh this summer.
Closer to their London-debut performances on the 30th of July, the artists from The (Hong) Kong Girls triple bill answered some questions about their solo works.
Q: What was the inspiration for your work?
Justyne Li: My work is called Bleed-through. The inspiration comes from the way in which we exist now: a body being “programmed” by external instructions and movement which does not entirely come from self-awareness. We are used to the body, yet we are not aware of it. Bleed-through is a work that studies and integrates it and turns it into dance movements.
WONG Pik Kei: My work is called Bird-watching. It talks about the freedom of body, which also involves desire. In Asia, women’s desire is not always being discussed and there are always a lot of misunderstandings. I hope I can use nudity to open this dialogue about what women’s body should be.
Alice Ma: The work is called Wu and is inspired from thinking about my own ugliness, to face and deal with it.
Q: How does your work resist the stereotypical understanding of the Kong Girl identity?
Justyne Li: My creation may not be specifically based on “Kong Girl” identity at the time I began to create it, and it’s hard to define what exactly “Kong Girl” stands for. It somehow varies with each girl’s background, age, generation and belief, etc. Hong Kong has a diverse culture, and it has become more complicated after 2019 for people to “stereotype” a certain identity.
Nevertheless, I believe stereotype often defines a person according to one’s external status, which can be partial. This contrasts to how I create my body movement and turn it into dance language. In short, when audiences see the “form” in my work, it comes from how I express my inner self.
WONG Pik Kei: I can’t say my work can resist any thoughts, though from this work I start to understand how important my body is, how important it is that I share this feeling with the audience. Hopefully, because of that, we can start talking and rethinking what Kong Girl means to everyone, knowing it should not be ignored.
Alice Ma: My work does not intend to resist the stereotypical understanding of the Kong Girl identity. I find it is difficult to define, and I don’t want to define what is stereotypical of the Kong Girl identity. To some extent, I see the Kong Girl identity as ever-changing, like water.
Q: How do you think the Hong Kong Soul platform can help positive representation of young women? What is positive representation to you?
Justyne: I take “positive representation” with a calm demeanor. This mentality is very important to me at this stage, not just only in dancing/performing/creating, but also as a person. A calm demeanor can help me connect with the greatest clarity, and this is the best energy to communicate with the others and the world.
WONG Pik Kei: I think that after four years of the pandemic and also the current situation with all the changes in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Soul platform takes a big step to bring our voices outside of Hong Kong. I hope we can start reconnecting to the world and begin to think about what we can do as artists.
Alice Ma: Hong Kong Soul platform brings our story to the world, enables us to connect with the world again after nearly four years of the pandemic. Positive representation for me is to keep passionate to myself and to the world, and keep being curious.
Q: What do you hope the audience will take away from your performance?
Justyne: I don’t want to assume any. I hope every audience has their free mind to see and get what they need to see.
WONG Pik Kei: I never want to tell what meaning I hope the audiences get from my work, I hope we both can enjoy the moment deeply, and we talk and share after that. I hope we can get the energy to support each other.
Alice: I do hope to know what the audience feel after watching it, and I look forward to their different interpretations. If I have to answer, I do hope the audience can embrace their own dark side.
Q: How do you see your work in dialogue with the other two works showcased in The (Hong) Kong Girls triple bill.
WONG Pik Kei: We support each other in this triple bill. Our work may not talk about the same topic, but we do support each other. I think it shows the way of supporting each other in this unseen dialogue in The(Hong) Kong Girls.
Alice: I believe we three care about our inner selves and our society and we do want to tell our stories to the world.
The (Hong) Kong Girls
Wednesday 2 – Sunday 13 August (no performance on 7 August) at 5.30pm
Summerhall – Demonstration Room
(Venue 26) 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL
Box office 01315601580 / [email protected] / https://festival23.summerhall.co.uk/events/the-hong-kong-girls
Tickets (2 + 3 August) £10, (4 – 13 August) £15, £13 concessions
Duration 60 minutes
Features nudity and scenes of a sexual nature
The (Hong) Kong Girls triple bill is previewed at The Studio Theatre RADA, 16 Chenies Street, London WC1E 7EX on Sunday 30 July at 2.30pm, tickets £10