Distinguishing between the Missions of “Dance Practitioner” and “Dance Artist”

Distinguishing between the Missions of “Dance Practitioner” and “Dance Artist”

Stephen Kwok Sai-ngai


Born in 1928, Stephen Kwok was one of the first Chinese males to receive ballet training in Hong Kong, and he is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Dance Federation. Kwok opened his ballet school in the 1960s, which changed the situation of ballet being mainly taught by the foreign teachers after its introduction into Hong Kong. In 1964, Kwok and Raymond Liao, Joan Campbell, Jean M. Wong and Pearl Chan co-founded the Hong Kong Ballet Group, providing more opportunities for the study of ballet for the Hong Kong public. While Kwok has a deep history with ballet, which is the epitome of fine arts from the West, he believes dance is more than an art form that is only appreciated by arts lovers, and that it could have a positive impact on the life of the public. Through his teaching and participation in various activities in the dance sector, he has always worked to promote the idea of dance as a part of general education to his industry peers and students, fostering its development as a part of the everyday life of Hong Kong people. As Kwok recalls, the colonial government changed its stance from suppression of dance activities to utilising dance as a tool of cultural diplomacy. While Hong Kong was under the sovereignty of the British Empire, the city’s cultural delegation showcased the aesthetics of Chinese dance on its overseas mission. From the 1950s to the 1970s, dance developed along a circuitous and paradoxical path of “rectification of name” in Hong Kong.

Date of interview: 29 April 2016
Location: Vivian Kwok School of Ballet (Taikoo Shing Centre)
Recorded and noted by: Joanna Lee Hoi-yin
Translated by Nicolette Wong

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