Edinburgh Fringe: Beautiful and telling, Hung Dance in See You

Dance Base, Edinburgh
August 16, 2022


In his programme note, Lai Hung-Chung (賴翃中) tells how See You (再見) performed by his own Hung Dance (翃舞製作) as part of this year’s Taiwan Season at the Edinburgh Fringe, was inspired by personal experience: about confrontation and evasion, longing and loss. Those thoughts are certainly all there, although it’s a work that is equally reflective of modern society and all of us.

The dance is close and intimate, yet with a cool detachment. There may be no overall A to B dramatic structure, but it’s filled with little narrative moments. The difficulties in connecting are there for all to see, confrontational moments included. The emotions we see in the relationships depicted feel honest and real although there’s still plenty of space for the viewer to layer their own meaning.

Hung Dance in See You
Photo Liu Ren-haur

The opening scene is striking: a huddle of dancers all dressed in white and light grey are picked out in blue light, a female held high, the rest of the stage sitting in shadow. As the tableau dissolves, there’s a sense of being on a journey, although there’s a wariness, everyone looking anxiously around, twitching in a way reminiscent of birds.

Thereafter, the choreography is a fusion of East and West, slower t’ai chi influenced moments blending well with more sharply angular, jerky contemporary elements somewhat reminiscent of the work of Marco Goecke.

A woman in a circle of light is increasingly buffeted by others as they walk purposefully around her. In a sad reflection of how people do so often just walk on by, another woman is totally ignored by the others. What is it they say about the loneliest place being a crowded place?

Hung Dance in See You
Photo Liu Ren-haur

The choreography is complex. It’s a dance of fleeting moments and brief encounters. Duets come and go, Hung cleverly using the ensemble as a counterpoint, their dance invariably containing little echoes of that of the main couple.

Dynamic ensemble moments see the dancers shuttling back and forth in changing formations. The synchronicity is outstanding.

Detail is everywhere, not only in the movement. Yang Yu-teh’s (楊妤德) costumes may be monotone, and to some extent shapeless, but look closely. All are subtly different, some with fine embroidery. Then there is Tsai Chao-yu’s (蔡詔羽) handsome and atmospheric lighting that so perfectly picks out individuals or couples and gives the choreography a dreamlike, floating-in-a-void feel. His brief dalliance with strobe is unnecessary and out of keeping with the general mood, though. Even so, if I see a better lit piece on the Fringe I will be amazed.

See You is an hour of contemporary dance at its best: beautiful, telling movement that holds you throughout.

See You is at Dance Base, Edinburgh to August 28, 2022. For tickets visit tickets.edfringe.com.