High-end fashion designer Lui Hon and award-winning dancer and choreographer Shian Law met almost a decade ago. “I’ve followed his career and collected his pieces,” says Law of Hon. “I’m attracted to the beauty and intelligence of his work, each garment is constructed perfectly.” Hon smiles at the compliment and says, “We have a mutual admiration for each other’s work, we both work extremely hard. I think it’s our Chinese culture that has taught us never to demand something you haven’t worked for.”
Law approached Hon with the concept for Personal Mythologies almost a year ago. When asked about his choice to use a fashion designer rather than a costume designer for this large-scale dance installation, he said, “I like to work with artists in their own right, a truly collaborative experience is important to me. It’s not just about following a brief. I appreciate Lui’s philosophy and approach to making.”
The collaboration between fashion and dance is not a new concept; we often see short fashion films featuring dancers and even runway shows are choreographed to music. Regardless, this process has been a new experience for Hon, whose work has featured on multiple runways internationally. “Fashion for the catwalk and fashion for art are very different mediums for expression. For the catwalk, you present a brand and think about the image of the consumer. In performance, the garment and the performer work together to create a whole other image.”
The garments designed for Personal Mythologies are monochrome reversible neoprene and will be worn by the full cast. The shape, weight and strength of the material contribute significantly to the performance, acting almost as another cast member. “Learning how the garments move and sound, and how to dance with them has been an almost ‘romantic’ experience,” laughs Law.
The large-scale dance installation will take place in the main hall of Arts House at the North Melbourne Town Hall. The audience is invited to enter the grand theatre and cloak their personal belongings, literally ridding themselves of any material possessions. Personal Mythologies challenges the relationship between author and spectator – the audience will find themselves as much a part of the performance as the dancers. Law’s work is constantly developing, and no one performance will be the same.
Shian Law’s Personal Mythologies opens May 1 at North Melbourne Town Hall as part of the Next Wave Festival and will run until May 11.
First published for Broadsheet
Photo by Christine Francis