In OzAsia’s Dance Lab, ten choreographers from around the region will be put in a room together. Beyond that, no-one knows what to expect - and that makes acclaimed Hong Kong choreographer Chloe Wong very happy.
Chloe Wong was drawn to dance because it made her feel alive.
After being first exposed to contemporary dance through school at the age of 13, she had a revelation.
Dance Lab takes place September 26-30 at the Lion Arts Centre.
“Maybe the first class was just a half an hour, but I feel so happy,” says Chloe. “At that time, I didn’t know how to say it, but for now I can say maybe at that time I stopped to actually feel existence.
“After 13 years, I feel alive. I just feel so bright.”
That sense of vitality has carried her work through a great many iterations.
— Chloe Wong
From a dance work about the relationship between humans and nature, to 2014’s Heaven Behind the Door, which examines the strength of individuals against the power of government, her pieces are imbued with political and philosophical ideas.
“All my work is about how we can survive,” says Chloe. “Maybe a simple way to say that – is sort of, how we find our way.”
Chloe explores these ideas through a dense layering of dance with detailed set, costume, and prop design, and even sometimes dialogue.
While this scope of creation might go beyond the traditional responsibilities of a choreographer, Chloe is unfussed about such definitions.
“Dance for me, it’s a door, a very beautiful door for me to get into art,” says Chloe.
“I don’t think dance is just movement or just some steps because you need to see many, many thing. I don’t intend to go out and say, ‘I’m the artist and I need to use many, many props in my work’. Never.
“But when I rehearse, then I suddenly see the picture and I add those things in.”
Chloe has practiced choreography in Prague, Greece, Germany, the United States, Japan, and – of course – her native Hong Kong.
For her, experiencing different cultures and different ways of living expands her work as it expands her perspectives.
“The more people I meet, the more layers I can think of, but it’s not like I copy from them,” says Chloe.
“It’s very important to meet many, many different backgrounds of people and to share their cultures and how and why they think as performers and dance in that way. For me it’s really connected to who they are.”
OzAsia’s Dance Lab is a chance for Chloe to pursue this part of her creative process in a whole different way, and in a whole new country – Australia.
Over five days, Chloe and nine other choreographers from around Australia and Asia will participate in a residency led by acclaimed local choreographer Leigh Warren in the Lion Arts Centre just off Hindley Street.
The Lab’s program has some structure – including networking events and open classes – but there is no prescribed outcomes, for which Chloe is grateful.
“It’s more about how much we can share of each other than it is about making some great thing happen,” she says.
“I can share one thing I think is so important in the creative process with them, maybe something they never though of. Or maybe they’ll share something that I never thought of.”
Dance Lab, then, is five days of infinite possibility powered by some of the world’s best creative minds.