By Yika Ng
Passionate dancer David Wong* earns a living by performing in concerts and holding dancing and choreography classes. He is trying hard to overcome the trauma from the horrific accident that happened at the Mirror concert in July 2022.
When the giant LED screen fell down during the performance in the Hong Kong Coliseum and hit fellow dancer Moses Li Kai-yin, the 23-year-old was also on the stage.
“After the accident, I have earned less as some concerts and shows have been cancelled or postponed. I also decided to work less and take a break to mentally recover from witnessing the accident,” he says.
A month after the horrible accident, the dancer performed again at a dance performance. He realised that it had cast a lingering mental impact on him.
“I tend to look up and check if there are any hanging objects above me before performing. I also feel a lot more anxious stepping on the stage after the accident. I cannot explain where exactly my fear comes from, ” Wong says.
A Cut-throat Industry
Apart from trying hard to overcome the trauma brought about by the Mirror concert accident, Wong also struggles to thrive under the keen competition in the dance performing industry.
“Dancers have to fight very hard to earn a spot in (performing in) a concert. There are usually about 80 to 90 dancers fighting for 20 spots in an audition for a concert,” he says.
The Hong Kong dancer says that dancers are paid according to the tiers they belong to.
“There are two tiers of dancers in the dance performing industry: main dancers and minor dancers, and main dancers will earn a higher salary. I consider myself lucky to be recognised as a main dancer and earn more compared to others,” Wong, who started his dancing career only two years ago, explains.
“I tend to look up and check if there are any hanging objects above me before performing. I also feel a lot more anxious stepping on the stage after the accident.”
The dancer thinks that it is unfair to determine a dancer’s salary by categorising dancers into different tiers rather than their talents.
“Some talented dancers may have spent decades in the industry but are only recognised as a minor dancer (and earn less than others). Their hard work cannot be seen by others because they do not have the opportunity to perform in big shows. Even a top-tier dancer may not be able to earn stable income as their income depends a lot on the number of shows he or she are selected to perform in, ” Wong says.
“Dancers and other people in the performing arts industry are often being asked by people around them whether they will change their jobs for a more stable income. I sometimes doubted whether I am making a right choice to stay in the industry,” the dance lover says.
Remiscencing the Good Old Days
Wong has changed his mindset and reconsidered his priorities in life after experiencing the Mirror concert accident. The young dancer realised that his family is the most important thing to him.
“I used to focus more on my work, like whether my dance performance is good or whether I have built a good reputation and can get more job opportunities. After (witnessing) the accident, I understood the importance of cherishing everything I have now,” he says.
He decided to spare more time with his family members, whom he cherishes the most.
“I used to enjoy going out for dinner (with friends) a lot, but I now grab the chance to have dinner at home so that I can spend more time with my family,” Wong says.
After the serious injuries brought by the hit of the LED screen at the Mirror concert, Li has been undergoing medical treatment at the hospital.
“It is hard for us (dancers who performed at the Mirror concert) to accept the fact that our dear friend, (Moses), is seriously injured in the performance. But we have to acknowledge this and started to move on from witnessing the accident,” he says.
The young dancer still struggles a lot on overcoming the mental damages brought by witnessing his friend’s injury in the concert.
“I missed the good old days when dancing is thought to be safe and enjoyable. I now think that the best way for me (to overcome the mental damage) is to live every day to the fullest and let time heals,” he says.
* Name changed at interviewees’ request.
Sub-edited by Ryan Li