The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) today announced its collaboration with three Finnish Dance Institutions on the promotion of the dance sector in Hong Kong. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony was held by WKCDA, Dance Info Finland, Zodiak - Centre for New Dance, and Dance House Helsinki who jointly announced the setting up of a three-year residency exchange programme titled ‘Creative meeting point: Hong Kong x Finland’ for dance artists from Hong Kong and Finland. The collaboration promises to further the development of the dance sectors in each place.

Three dance artists from Hong Kong – Ivy Tsui Yik-chit, Justyne Li Sze-yeung and Wayson Poon Wai-shun took part in a visit to the Nordic region last year from 30 November to 18 December. In Copenhagen, Denmark, they visited the international dance festival “ICE HOT”, before taking up residency at the Zodiak - Centre for New Dance in the Cable Factory in Helsinki, Finland, as part of the Helsinki International Artist Programme. Under the exchange programme, Finnish dance artists Carl Knif, Sari Palmgren and Linda Martikainen recently arrived in Hong Kong for a 12-day residency, from 11 March to 22 March. During this time they have interacted and exchanged experience with local dance artists, creative talents and the public. Together with their Hong Kong counterparts, they will work towards a co-production in 2019.

The MOU Signing Ceremony was held at MUSE in Hotel Stage officiated by Mr Duncan Pescod, CEO of WKCDA, Mr Louis Yu, Executive Director, Performing Arts, Anna CY Chan, Head of Dance, Performing Arts of the WKCDA, Mr. Jari SINKARI, Consul-General of Finalnd and Mrs. Johanna MANNI, Consul, Consulate General of Finland, HK, Ms Sanna Rekkola, Director of Dance Info Finland, and Mr Harri Kuorelahti, Artistic Director of Zodiak - Centre for New Dance. At the sharing session following the signing, Sanna and Harri presented the overall dance scene in Finland and the Nordic region while the six dance artists from Hong Kong and Finland shared their inspirations and experiences.

Anna CY Chan, Head of Dance, Performing Arts of the WKCDA, noted that Finland has been working closely with a number of Nordic and Baltic countries such as Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia in Dance promotion and development. Their concerted efforts have made the region a leader in this field. By partnering with Finland, the WKCDA will be connecting Hong Kong Dance sector with the many Nordic countries in this network. Over the past 10 years, Finland has also been proactively reaching out to foster partnership with countries such as Korea, Japan and Australia. Their well-established dance management and promotion experience can provide a solid reference for Hong Kong’s way forward.

“We are delighted to learn that Dance House Helsinski, a new dance house will open in Finland in 2020, at roughly the same time the Dancehouse in the Lyric Theatre Complex of West Kowloon District will also be launched. We hope, through this collaboration, both parties will benefit from the experience sharing in terms of programme planning, audience development and engagement. This will no doubt facilitate Hong Kong’s dance industry development and enhance our international connections. Dance is a form of language without barrier and it provides us a common bond and platform for international collaboration and partnership.” added Ms Chan.

‘Creative meeting point: Hong Kong x Finland’ is the first joint effort between the WKCDA and international dance institutions. In line with its mission to promote the arts and the cultural development of Hong Kong, the WKCDA has been actively identifying opportunities for collaboration with different domestic and overseas cultural organisations. Apart from signing this MOU with Finland, the WKCDA also signed a partnership agreement with the Shanghai Center of Chinese Operas in 2016. By 2021, the WKCDA plans to have set up cooperation arrangements with four to five cultural institutions from different countries.

Remarks

Participating artists from Hong Kong

Tsui Yik-chit, Ivy

Ivy Tsui Yik-chit graduated from The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) in 2009 with a first class honors degree. Majoring in ballet and modern dance, she received several awards during her studies, including the Disney Scholarship, and scholarships from the Society of the Academy for Performing Arts and the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation. Since graduating she has worked as an independent dance artist. Her works, Dandelion (2013) and Breathe (2014), were invited to the Beijing Dance Festival and the Guangdong Dance Festival. Her commissioned performances and choreographic works for the Hong Kong Arts Festival and Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department, include: Dehydrated Flower, Frangipani, Morning Glory, Absent Presentee and Circus in the Dark–2015 Community Cultural Ambassador Scheme. She received a nomination for Outstanding Actress at the 7th Hong Kong Theatre Libre for her performance in Absent Presentee. She is the winner of the 2015 Young Artist (Dance) Award from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. 

Li Sze-yeung, Justyne

Justyne Li Sze Yeung graduated from The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, School of Dance, Ballet and Modern Dance Stream. She is a former member of the Hong Kong Ballet and Tanz Graz (Austria), and was a soloist with Ballett Bremerhaven (Germany). Currently working as an independent dancer and choreographer, she has performed at the M1 CONTACT Contemporary Dance Festival, d’MOTION International Dance Festival, the Guangdong Dance Festival and the Beijing Dance Festival. Her recent choreographies include: Dance Internship II; Dance Internship I with the Hong Kong Ballet; Galatea X; Galatea & Passenger, LCSD’s “New Force in Motion” Series (2010), Galatea & Pygmalion at the Hong Kong Dance Festival 2010 and 2013.Galatea X received the Hong Kong Dance Award 2014 for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer. Galatea & Pygmalion received the Hong Kong Dance Award 2011 for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Dance. Li was also nominated for Outstanding Performance in the same year.

Poon Wai-shun, Wayson

Hong Kong-based contemporary dance artist and choreographer Wayson Poon Wai Shun is active in Europe and Asia. He is one of the founders of The Body Acts dance studio, and was a resident artist at the Chaoyang Cultural Center Nine Theater and the School of Multimedia Arts of China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. His best-known works include: Fleeing by Night, Behind 3.0 and Untitled. Poon’s works have been performed and toured in a number of countries and at various arts festivals. In recent years, Wayson has led workshops about his body research and creation at Bath Spa University (UK), Asia Dance Project (Korea), Melbourne Festival (Australia), Chengdu Yuan-shu Contemporary Dance Space (China), and with the Jiangsu Provincial Song and Dance Ensemble (China). Poon has also been the rehearsal director of A Thread by Jean Abreu Dance in London since 2014 and performed in the United Kingdom and Brazil.

Participating artists from Finland

Carl Knif

Carl Knif graduated from the Theatre Academy in Helsinki in 2000 and has since then been in the frontline of Finnish dancers. He has been a dancer in Tero Saarinen Company since 2004. Since 2007, Knif has focused on his own choreographic work. His piece, Hologram Walls (2010), was commissioned by the Helsinki Festival. Other works include Manuscript (2012) for Kuopio Dance Festival as well as Mothertongue (2013) in collaboration with the Finnish National Ballet. He founded his own company Carl Knif Company in 2012. Knif was given a three-year artistic-grant by the Finnish Swedish Cultural Foundation in 2014. In 2015 Knifs solo RED was chosen by Aerowaves, Dance Across Europe, as one of the twenty most interesting choreographies of the year. His pieces have toured both nationally and internationally.

Sari Palmgren

Sari Palmgren graduated with a MA from the Theatre Academy in Helsinki in 2004. Since then she has been working as a freelance choreographer, dancer and dance teacher in Finland and abroad. She is working widely with stage works, theatre, different social choreography projects and dance films. Her latest works are Licking things (2016), Valkoinen peura (2016), homevideos (2015), Connective Patterns (2008 and 2015) Mortal road movie (2014),The Earth Song (2013, tour 2016-2018), Lost Missing and Forgotten (2012). Palmgren is a member of the board in Tanssille ry, which organizes weekly morning classes and workhops for the dance professionals in Finland. She received a three-year artistic grant for 2016-2018 from Arts Promotion Centre of Finland.

Linda Martikainen

Linda Martikainen is a Finnish choreographer, performance artist and movement teacher based in Helsinki. Linda creates unconventional and experimental performances where the senses and thinking of the audience are challenged. Linda works in the medium of performance art as well as of film. Her latest dance short film, Triskelion (2015) explored distance between a human and an object through proximity, touch and encountering. Her most recent performance, a/part/ment (2016), was for one viewer-experiencer at a time and it took place in public urban space and in a residence building in central Helsinki. At the moment Linda is collaborating on S-projekti, which is a solo project where two choreographers share their journey of solo creation. Throughout a year, on every third month, they present to each other, to the working group and to an audience their latest discoveries. Linda did her MA in Choreography at the Theatre Academy in Helsinki. Before that she graduated as a dancer from the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance (SEAD).

Programme partners

Dance Info Finland

Dance Info Finland, established in 1980 (original name as The Finnish Dance Delegation) has the mission to promote the development of Finnish dance art and improving its status and operating conditions in society. It is also an active expert in international collaborations taking part in the steering committee of the ICE HOT Nordic Dance platform, Australia-Finland Dance Exchange and so forth. Dance Info Finland is also members of International network for Contemporary Performing Arts (IETM), The European network for information centres of the Performing Arts, Nordic Forum for Dance Research, North European Dance Meeting network, Aerowaves (a network of dance professional from 33 European countries).

Zodiak – Centre for New Dance

Zodiak – Centre for New Dance is a progressive dance organisation in Helsinki and the most significant production house of contemporary dance in Finland. The mission of Zodiak is to produce, present and promote works of high artistic quality and innovation. Zodiak provides a creative environment and collegial platform for independent dance artists and groups. For the audience, Zodiak offers a versatile program of cutting-edge contemporary dance, events and activities. Zodiak is supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and the City of Helsinki and it is also a member of the European Dance House network.

Dance House Helsinki

A new Dance House Helsinki is planned to be opened in 2020/21 funded by City of Helsinki and private foundation. The Dance House Helsinki aims to be an accessible and welcoming gathering place for the public/sector while providing amenities for high quality dance performances. The Dance House Helsinki will also ease the decades-long, chronic shortage of rehearsal and performance space for dance artists in the metro area of Finland. Although the physical Dance House building doesn’t exist yet, it has already been actively providing and developing activities for the public and the dance professionals such as international and national touring performances, mentorship program and national dance forum.

About West Kowloon Cultural District

Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces, and M+, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, as well as provide 23 hectares of public open space, including a two kilometre waterfront promenade.