It has been over two decades since Boy Story was first staged in Hong Kong but its appeal has yet to wane.
Hong Kong choreographer Yuri Ng’s contemporary dance masterpiece finally arrives here and what makes it extra special is that five of the original six male dancers are Malaysians. And now the boys are back in their homeland to reprise their original roles.
Boy Story, presented by Unlock Dancing Plaza (Hong Kong), will be staged at DPac in Petaling Jaya from Sept 1-3. It is part of DiverseCity, Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival, which kicks off today.
Boy Story, which premiered in Hong Kong in 1996, explores the anxiety towards self-positioning and identity, and the pursuit of dreams. When Ng was first commissioned to create a piece for Hong Kong’s City Contemporary Dance Company in 1995, he had no idea what to expect since he had just returned to Asia after spending many years dancing with The National Ballet Of Canada.
“My background is in classical ballet and I see more girls than boys. I never thought I’d work with an all-male cast so I had to come up with an idea why I would want to spend time with these males,” recalls Ng, 53, in a recent interview.
The boys, five of them Malaysians, were trying to make Hong Kong their new home.
“I connected with this because I had spent a lot of time in Canada. I created a solo for each of them, and gave them tasks to see how Asian males work and play together as a group. I suppose it was fun yet challenging so the choreography came out all right,” he adds.
Over the years, many dancers have danced in the 30-minute Boy Story but Ng says the structure remains unchanged.
“I’ve made minor changes here and there for whoever is dancing the role.
For the DPac show, the dancers comprise Ong Yong Lock, Aman Yap Choong Boon, Jay Jen Loo and Goh Boon Ann, with Wong Thien Pau from the 1998 version, and newcomer, Chou Shu-Yi from Taiwan.
“The piece is special because we used our stories to create it, making it very personal when we dance,” says Ong.
“It happened before 1997, a time of uncertainty as it was just before Hong Kong was returned to China. People were confused, anxious and worried we had the same feelings and struggled because we didn’t know what our next step was,” he adds.
The idea for the original cast reunion came about 10 years ago but proved difficult with the six men having their own families and careers.
“Yuri got the invitation from Hong Kong Ballet to restage the piece for their Japan tour so he called me to restage it for him with the young dancers. He also wanted me to ask the original cast to come to Hong Kong to teach the piece. While we were teaching, he realised everyone could still move and remembered the steps well so after rehearsal one day, we talked about restaging Boy Story for ourselves the next year. That’s how it happened,” says Ong, who is the artistic director of Unlock Dancing Plaza.
In addition, award-winning Hong Kong director Maurice Lai has expanded Boy Story by creating a documentary that chronicles the performances of the cast from different generations over the past 21 years. The documentary will be aired in the first half of the programme at DPac.
“It’s a celebration and we want to encourage the young to continue to chase their dreams, just like we did,” concludes Ong.
Boy Story is on at DPac (Damansara Performing Arts Centre), H-01, Empire Damansara, Jalan PJU 8/8, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya in Selangor from Sept 1-3. Tickets are priced at RM88 and RM78 (Dcard members). For enquiries, call 03-4065 0001/4065 0002. Visit: www.dpac.com.my.