May 2019

Hogan Dance Editorial

Rhythmically twirling and dancing though some of Hong Kong’s icons both new and old, these four dancers and choreographers have found unity in their step with Hogan’s newest collection of fluorescent sneakers.

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Grace Wong (@gwgurlie86) wears Hogan Maxi I Active sneakers

How did your interest in dancing first begin?

It first began when I was five, when I was watching Mariah’s Fantasy concert. I fell in love with the singing, the dancing, the lights, and stage props. Then I joined a scholarship dance program run by Jacques d’Amboise in NDI (National Dance Institute) in New York City and there I was introduced to a large variety of dance forms: ballet, jazz, modern, Latin, African and tap. It made a huge impact in my life, allowing me to express myself through music and movement.

What do you think about the dance scene in Hong Kong?

I think it is getting bigger as more people are opening their ears to music around the globe. There are more dance styles taught in Hong Kong now, with some amazing dance schools that have been opened.

Being a full-time actress, how do you make time practice your dance moves?

I just dance around in my house [laughs], especially when I’m brushing my teeth.

Are there any similarities between dancing and acting?

Practicing the steps in dance is like going through your script. You got to dig deeper as to what your character is saying. What is she going through? Is what she’s saying really what she means? Similarly, in dance, what are you saying with your movements, what is the message that you’re conveying? If you’re just doing the moves, it is like an actor just saying the lines, or a singer just singing lyrics on pitch. The message and how you convey the emotions are more important.

How would you describe your signature dance style?

I definitely have a special love for reggaeton, music with a Latin and African vibe to it because I love moving my hips and knees a lot.

Would you go into a different dance genre? For example, ballet or contemporary dance?

I love all dance genres and have tried a lot of different genres in NDI. Now that I’ve matured more, I would love to have more chances to learn styles that I love. In Latin, I want to learn Argentine tango, flamenco, or bachata. I also want to learn more African dancing.

What challenges did you face when you first started dancing?

I wasn’t confident because the people around me were so expressive and open about dancing. Many of my friends came from a Spanish or African culture where dance was so embedded in their everyday life. However, dancing in a big group over the years taught me to enjoy being expressive. I was able to do anything if I practiced hard at it.

What’s your favourite part of dancing? What’s your least?

I love the power that dance brings because you get to use yourself completely to express something. Your eyes, your pouts, your hair, your neck, even your toes. The part I like the least are the technical parts [laughs], the spins, the jumps, the isolations but they definitely strengthen your foundation so you can do tougher choreography when it comes your way.

We’ve spoken before and you mentioned you were interested in getting into the world of singing. Dancing seems to be the natural accompaniment to that. When can we expect to see your first music video?

Hopefully around summertime or end of this year. Excited to share my passions with Hong Kong and hopefully audiences around the globe.

Do you have a dancing legend you look up to?

I’m a huge fan of Beyoncé, J-Lo and Rihanna! They are so fierce and fearless on stage! It’s amazing to watch!

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Haruna Kunisawa (@harunakunisawa) wears Hogan Maxi I Active sneakers

How did you get into dancing?

Since I was three or four years old, I have been so active, and I always danced in front of my TV. My mom thought I might be interested in dancing and enrolled me in a ballet school when I was eight.

What’s your background story?

I started learning ballet when I was eight and continued till I was 16. When I 14, I went to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall and took some classes at a famous ballet school. However, I injured myself when I was 16 and got surgery the next year so sadly after that I had to give up on my dreams of becoming a professional ballerina.

Then, I entered university in Japan and was picked as the exchange student to Oregon in the states and there, I started taking Jazz Funk classes while I did my studies. After taking part in the audition for the WNBA HIPHOP dance crew, I was selected and I dreamt of becoming a pro-dancer again, which lead me to transfer from Oregon to New York and started my life as a dancer there.

One day, a Hong Kong choreographer came to New York and asked me to move to Hong Kong and work in his company, and at the time I thought it would be a great chance for me to me to absorb more experiences and upgrade my resume so I could get a better job in New York. However, after I worked in Hong Kong for a month, I fell in love atmosphere and decided to stay.

14 years have already passed since I made that decision.

After I moved, I worked as the main backup dancer for so many great Hong Kong artists such as Eason Chan, Sandy Lam, Fiona Sit, GEM, Sally Ip and many more.

With that experience, my husband and I opened our own company and studio in Tsim Sha Tsui and we were fortunate enough to be able to continue working with these amazing artists. Of course, we also host a wide range of choreography classes there and we’ve got a loyal following of students.

What process do you go through in creating a routine for celebrities?

I didn’t choreograph for them, my partner did. Recently we worked together to choreograph for Cheronna from Supergirls. We usually study the meaning of the song lyrics and carefully and work from there.

How do you work with clients who are terrible dancers?

I have never met a terrible dancer or artist. Since, they are usually musically talented, they have a good sense of rhythm. Occasionally they might have trouble remembering the moves, but I’m quite patient and cheerful as a person and I maintain that attitude with them. Most importantly, I make sure that I let them have fun and they feel confident. I am like that with my students too.

What do you think about the dance scene in Hong Kong?

There are so many talented dancers in Hong Kong and I really appreciate their talent and hard work. When I came to Hong Kong for the first time in December 2004, there was no YouTube at that time and I felt the dance styles and music sense were a little lacking. Despite that there were many great dancers. Nowadays, they can all find out the newest dancing trends on YouTube and Instagram, and be able to learn a lot from it.

Would you go into a different dance genre? For example, ballet or contemporary dance?

I do dance quite across a lot of different genres, and I like most of them but I have never tried tap. I don’t think I can handle it.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Keeping my body healthy is one thing. When I get injured or sick, I can’t work on those days, so I need to be careful. Another thing is “balance”. I choose this job because I love dancing, however, it’s not easy to always be creative, active and thinking about dance all the time. I love dancing but it also has its negative side.

What is the most rewarding part of being a choreographer?

When my client fully immersed into my choreography and dances like nobody is watching them. The way their eyes glimmer when they dance. I love watching that moment.

Besides dancing, what are your passions?

I like watching movies & Japanese TV programs, reading books, drinking and chilling. I am not particularly passionate about these things but sometimes I like to take a break from dancing and relax myself. It helps me feel refreshed.

Who is one person you’d really love to work with?

My business partner and husband. We’ve been together for over 14 years now. We went through some difficult moments together so we are comfortable in sharing everything and talking to each other about how-to improve.

What are your dreams for the future?

Now, I am living my dream. All I want is for this to continue and I want to become better.

Who is your legend?

My mom! She isn’t a dancer, but the way she lives as a working mom is admirable. I think I want to live like her. Strong, positive and caring a lot for family. I want to work hard, but not forget to have fun with family and friends while finding time for my hobbies.

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Danie Chan (@danie_c) wears Hogan Active One sneakers

DANIE CHAN

How did your interest in dancing first begin?

When I saw Aaron Kwok and Rain on the TV, I was in awe with their dance and I hoped to become as talented as them one day.

What’s your background story?

I started learning Chinese dance when I was 7. Later in secondary school, I took salsa classes. After that I got a scholarship in a Hong Kong dance studio and went on to train in Los Angeles.

Did your life take on a different direction after winning all those dance competitions?

I guess I was able to call myself a professional dancer after that because I got a dancing job after I won my first championship competition.

Which competition has been the most memorable one?

China Dance Delight was a memorable one for me. It’s a very important competition in Japan & China. I won the first round in Macau and went to Shanghai for the second round of the competition. There were many dance crews and each crew only had two people.

What are some of the biggest names that you have worked with?

I’ve worked with some great people like GEM, Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai, AKON, Sammi Cheng, Justin Lo, Coco Lee, Hin Cheung, Kelly Chan and more.

What process do you go through to create a routine for them?

I usually prefer choreographing the routine at midnight or somewhere quiet. I would listen to the music and feel it. Then, I’ll freestyle according to the mood to come up with a routine.

How would you describe your signature dance style?

Cool, powerful and fast

What’s your everyday fashion style?

Sexy, comfortable & natural.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I am choreographing Justin Lo and Sammi Cheng’s concert. That is the most challenging thing for me now.

What is the most rewarding part of being a choreographer?

I get to work hard and learn a lot.

Besides dancing, what are your passions?

I want to become a business woman.

What are your dreams for the future?

I want to open my own café.

Who is your legend?

My mother.

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Shing Mak (@mcshing) wears Hogan Active One sneakers

What’s your background story?

I started dancing when I was studying in Hong Kong Polytechnic University. A lot of my “cool” seniors were in the Dance Society. That’s why I joined the group. I wanted to be as cool as them. I believe it marked the beginning of my dance career.

After I graduated from university, I started working closely with my mentors – Sunny Chan and Chris Choi – at their dance studios. They introduced me to superstar Aaron Kwok’s choreographer Sunny Wong. They also shared a lot of their freelance job opportunities with me to support my career. By 2008, I was equipped enough to become a professional choreographer. Back-then-rising-star William Chan Wai-ting was the first to sign up with me. We started to work together from the time he decided to become a solo artist (he used to be in a boy group). Recently, I have moved on to work more on movies and musicals. I still create routines for celebrities.

How did your life change after appearing in movies?

I started working more with movies and directors from 2010. The major turning point for me was “The Way We Dance” in which I directed and created the dance routines for the movie. The movie led me to my first nomination at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards for Best Action Direction. More producers and directors started to notice my works. Now, I have more opportunities to work in movies. I look forward to direct dance movies and musicals soon!

What’s the difference between dancing in the studio vs dancing in movies?

The feels and vibes are absolutely different! In the studio, I feel more carefree, I can practice different moves and make mistakes! On the other hand, with movies, it allows me to fly with my imagination and make the impossible possible with after effects.

What are some of the biggest names that you have worked with?

Aaron Kwok, Andy Lau, William Chan, Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung from Twins and more.

What’s the process you go through in creating a routine for them?

I will start with lengthy and deep conversations with each artist since they all have their own personalities and more importantly, they want to convey their unique message and emotions to the audience. For singers, the routines must be created based on the melody of the songs; for movies the choreography must synchronize with the flow of the story. Either way, there will be a lot of back and forth communication and sometimes the creation process will be inspired by life experience and sometimes just by reading the movie scripts.

What do you think about the dance scene in Hong Kong?

I think there’s not enough local dance movies and productions happening in Hong Kong. So, every time I see that there are dance scenes in movies or commercials or anything, I pay more attention to them. I hope Hong Kong can have a variety of dance-based productions, as there are hundreds of dance genre that can convey millions of messages.

How would you describe your signature dance style?

Jazz, hip hop and urban dance. I like Jazz Funk a lot, and Urban Dance with lyrical elements of course. I love genres that demonstrate rich emotions. But I think my students like my jazz-funk the best [laughs].

Would you go into a different dance genre? For example, ballet or contemporary dance?

When I was in Los Angeles, I practiced contemporary dance to train myself to be as flexible as possible. I saw that the Hong Kong dance scene could accommodate a vast variety of dance genres and I want to equip myself for that.

What’s your everyday fashion style?

I prefer street and sportswear. More versatile styles fit my schedule and lifestyle better.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

It must be creating a routine from absolutely nothing. Since there will be no reference whatsoever, it’s like making an abstract concept into a tangible thing. There are a lot of communication needed and it’s not easy to describe something so abstract to another person.

Besides dancing, what are your passions?

I LOVE MOVIES! I like stories and going to the cinema is definitely one of my passion. Movies give me inspirations and space to think.

Who is one person you’d really love to work with?

William Chan Wai Ting, because he’s my biggest challenge. He is adventurous, loves to explore possibilities, and I know he is capable of new things. I enjoy working with him a lot. He is like a brother to me.

What is one misconception if what you do that you would like to correct?

A lot of art critics in Hong Kong don’t recognize street dance or commercial dance as art forms, which I disagree. I think every dance form is an art - they are just unconventional - I do think it is a misconception in the Hong Kong circle. In fact, street dance and commercial dance are considered as arts in many other parts of the world.

What are your dreams for the future?

I want to direct musical dramas or movies. Currently, I am planning and working on one now!

Who is your legend?

Michael Jackson. His performances are classic and timeless. I get blown away whenever I watch clips of his performance. He is truly the King of Pop.

Photography / Benny Leung from BLCH

Footwear / Hogan

Clothing / D-Antidote and J Koo