The power of dance

The power of dance

Live Vibe HK gives young performers a chance to express their true selves

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Live Vibe founder Hakeem Onibudo will MC at the Hong Kong event.
Live Vibe founder Hakeem Onibudo will MC at the Hong Kong event.
Photo: Live Vibe
What do Jay-Z, The Bronx and the first weekend of March have in common? They're all about celebrating hip hop. After its successful debut in 2010, next weekend sees the return of Live Vibe Hong Kong, a dance extravaganza featuring top local dancers, as well as a featured appearance by two-time world hip hop champions, the Philippine Allstars.

Live Vibe's predecessor was established in London in 2000, and rebranded in 2009 as Live Vibe, a regular showcase giving performers a chance to work in a professional setting. Founder and artistic director Hakeem Onibudo calls it "a unique platform for artists to think out of the box and perform in an intimate environment".

In Hong Kong, dance is often seen as either exclusive, or a distraction from schoolwork. But Onibudo believes it is for everyone.

"I have worked with young people and seen how dance has helped them to express themselves and build their self-esteem ... I have seen it change people's lives," he continues. "I have seen people who suffer from certain unhealthy traits who now feel confident that, through dance they can express themselves."

Auditions were held last month to find performers for the Hong Kong show, and nine acts were chosen. The theme is "Identity", something close to most Hongkongers' hearts, especially those who don't follow the "expected" life path. The producer of Live Vibe Hong Kong, Jessica Hefes, hopes it will benefit both the performers and the city as a whole.

"I think Hong Kong society needs to open up to more creative industries in general, to push young people towards being creative rather than just being good at maths," she says.

"One thing I have seen with dancers is that they are incredibly creative and hard-working. Because they live in a society that does not look particularly kindly to what they do, they develop more resilience than other young people."

Onibudo agrees that local dancers have a lot of potential, which he hopes Live Vibe can help them to realise. He adds that hip hop and similar forms of dance here are "still very young. We're just beginning in Hong Kong; my mission is to change people's perspective about what's going on."

If it's possible, Hefes believes even more strongly in the power of dance.

"I think Live Vibe is an amazing event because it pushes dancers to go beyond what they are used to," she says. "It also shows the public how incredible dance, and street dances in particular, are and how talented dancers in Hong Kong can be.

"In Britain, Live Vibe has influenced hundreds of young people over the years - and we're hoping that it will have that type of influence here, too."

Visit www.livevibe.hk for more information

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