On a sweltering Sunday afternoon, Joseph Lee revisited his alma mater to dance for the video ‘As I Secretly Danced at CUHK’. During the two-minute clip, he twisted and gyrated to the rhythm of light and shadow spontaneously, using a number of campus landmarks as the backdrop. Most of the time, the dancer in black turned his back to the camera and avoided any showing of the face. Instead, he made the most of his body languages to demonstrate how the human body interacted with its immediate environment, revealing beauty in the most mundane of places.
Now a local choreographer and dancer, Joseph graduated from CUHK’s Professional Accountancy Programme in 2013 before he set out to London to study contemporary dance. Two years ago he returned to Hong Kong and started life as a full-time dancer. ‘Dancing is not just a way to express my thoughts and feelings, but more importantly allows me to bond with other people and my inner self.’
The more he performs and creates, the more he realizes that city dwellers are rarely aware of their bodies and the surroundings unless something goes wrong. ‘To dance is to use the body to know oneself and to develop a crystal-clear consciousness about the people and things around.’
While contemporary dance is often seen as an abstract and abstruse form of art, Joseph opines that it actually allows everyone, laymen and professionals alike, to open up their senses, unleash creativity and embrace abstraction. ‘Contemporary dance brings us to a more primitive, purer state of existence. By using the body to think and feel consciously, our senses become more acute, which frees up more space for us to listen to ourselves and others.’
At present he is a resident artist in a local modern dance company called Unlock Dancing Plaza and also an independent choreographer, splitting his time between performing, teaching and creating his own works. He takes much pride in his solo dance number ‘Folding Echoes’, which he choreographed with the intent to popularize contemporary dance. It has been well received in art festivals in Germany, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
Looking back at his three years of university life, Joseph said he benefitted spiritually from the wide spectrum of humanity subjects and the liberal atmosphere on campus. What he learned in business school has given him tools to expand the market niche of contemporary dance and to reach a wider audience. ‘I got to view dancing in a more practical light. And the friends I made back in those three years never fail to show support.’
When asked what he wants to achieve the most through dancing, Joseph answered, ‘I wish to awaken people’s curiosity about dancing, so that they will try to dabble in this art, and make dancing part of their lives.’
This article was originally published in No. 505, Newsletter in Oct 2017.