While Schuhplattler originated from the mountains of Bavaria more than a thousand years ago, Yingge was listed in “The Intangible Cultural Heritage in China” by the State Council in 2006. The 44th Hong Kong Arts Festival’s Artists-in-Residence Project, sponsored for the sixth time by BNP Paribas, brings together distinguished Italian choreographer Alessandro Sciarroni and Hong Kong choreographer Mao Wei, to introduce to students from three local secondary schools these two kinds of folk dances. This cross-cultural collaboration exposes students to the long and profound dance traditions of Bavaria and southeast Guangdong simultaneously, as well as celebrating the 10th anniversary of the national recognition of Yingge as an important Chinese cultural heritage.
This innovative convergence of two diverse folk dance traditions was the result of an inspiring exchange between the two choreographers. Alessandro Sciarroni proposed juxtaposing the traditional Bavarian folk dance known as “Schuhplattler”, featured in FOLK-S, with a Chinese folk dance. Mao Wei, Creative Director of Four Degrees Dance Laboratory, suggested incorporating Yingge (英歌), a 300-year-old popular dance from Puning (普寧) and Chaoyang (潮陽) in southeast Guangdong Province into the project. “Schuhplattler” is a traditional Bavarian folk dance involving striking palms against thighs, legs and shoes, creating persuasive sounds and rhythms, while each performer of Yingge has to wear facial makeup in the Chaozhou (潮洲) or Shantou (汕頭) style based on the imagined images of his heroic characters.
The three schools participating in the Project this year are Elegantia College, Fung Kai Liu Man Shek Tong Secondary School, and Fanling Rhenish Church Secondary School. They will showcase what they have learned in Shatin Town Hall in late February and early March 2016.
In a series of educational workshops run by the two artists, students immerse themselves in the traditions of two folklore cultures and acquire the basic techniques for conveying emotions and stories through body movements. This unique cultural crossover is expected to stimulate students’ creativity and imagination. Alessandro Sciarroni’s team and Mao Wei will lead participating students to present their work in a public showcase at Shatin Town Hall, and in an exclusive performance for students from participating schools at Shatin Town Hall in late February 2016.
Tisa Ho, Executive Director of Hong Kong Arts Festival, believes the 2016 Artists-in-Residence Project is particularly interesting as it enables the students to experience the life and vigour of both western and eastern folk dances from different parts of the world. “This year, the Hong Kong Arts Festival brings two seemingly distinct cultures together to create a crossover in dance. The collaboration between the artists also allows students a better understanding of the importance of cultural diversity and exchange, as well as the need to embrace and revive traditional culture. I am immensely grateful to BNP Paribas for their long term support which makes possible the Artists-in-Residence Project again.”
Paul Yang, Head of Greater China and CEO BNP Paribas Hong Kong, said, “We are proud to partner with the Hong Kong Arts Festival on the Artists-in-Residence Project. Over the past five years, we have seen hundreds of students try their hand at different forms of performing arts. We hope this project will enhance their creativity and self-assurance in both their studies and lives.”
Jean-Jacques Goron, Managing Director of BNP Paribas Foundation, added, “BNP Paribas Foundation is glad to co-fund this inspiring project which is part of our global education programme “Dream Up”. Launched in 2015, the Dream Up programme offers mainly underprivileged youngsters from all over the world the chance to discover and practice an art form. With 28 projects in 26 countries, this programme will help over 30,000 youngsters to unlock their hidden talents and open up new horizons for them.”
The Facebook page of Artists-in-Residence Project serves as a platform for sharing precious moments throughout the project and for communication among the instructors and students: