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Kinesthetic CityDance and Movement in Chinese Urban Spaces$
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SanSan Kwan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199921515

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199921515.001.0001

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Jagged Presence in the Liquid City

Jagged Presence in the Liquid City

Choreographing Hong Kong’s Handover

(p.69) Chapter 2 Jagged Presence in the Liquid City
Kinesthetic City

SanSan Kwan

Oxford University Press

Chapter two experiences the urban terrain of Hong Kong as a kinesthetic dramatization of Hong Kong's unsteady relationship to Chineseness. Through a somatic mapping of the city the chapter examines Hong Kong's particular postcolonial predicament — its return to the mainland after 100 years of British rule — and attendant cultural identity crisis. As a place through which things and people from every direction cross and recross, Hong Kong sometimes seems like a place without any actual land, just an intricate network of transit systems in kinetic suspension. The chapter explores a dance piece called Revolutionary Pekinese Opera (1997) by City Contemporary Dance Company and a series of public protests by the spiritual group Falun Gong, both of which occurred around the time of Hong Kong's handover to China. Both choreographies reveal Hong Kongers' efforts to apprehend the city during a time of uncertainty. The chapter argues that both the dance piece and the protests served as critiques of the forces of global capitalist flow that tend to motivate the everyday choreography of the streets of Hong Kong. At the moment of the handover these two choreographies strove to make visible the bodies handed over through this transfer of sovereignty. This chapter suggests that alternate kinetic forces can work to inject blips, stutters, and stillness into a habitus otherwise dominated by free flow.

Keywords:   Hong Kong, Hong Kong handover, kinesthesia, Chineseness, one China, two systems, Special Administrative Region, Falun Gong, City Contemporary Dance Company, Helen Lai, public protest, urban space

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