Cover Rock Fang talks to Tatler Hong Kong about what it's like working with Anson Lo. (@ rockinair/Instagram)

Known for their onstage presence and stylish dance moves, Hong Kong boyband Mirror has taken the city by storm. In this interview, the band's choreographer Rock Fang talks to Tatler about how their dance routines come to life and shares what it's like working with megastar Anson Lo.

Since forming in 2018, Hong Kong boyband Mirror has sparked a resurgence for Canto-pop in the city. As well as selling out stadium gigs and delighting fans young and old, over the past twelve months the band's members, led by Asia's Most Influential honouree Keung To, have become the city's hottest commodity––appearing in advertisements for everything from luxury jewellery and fashion brands, to banks and fast-food chains

But behind every great boyband is a team that helps make the magic happen, and for Mirror, Rock Fang is an integral part of that team. The renowned Hong Kong dance teacher and choregrapher has created many of the band's signature moves and fan-favourite dance routines––earning him the nickname "Rock Sir" with both the band's members and their fans. 

In this exclusive interview with Tatler Hong Kong, Fang talks to us about choreographing for Hong Kong's hottest band, how he finds inspiration for new routines, and what it's like working with Anson Lo

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Becoming the city's most in-demand choreographer wasn't always on the cards for Rock Fang. He originally planned to become a physical education teacher. It wasn't until he fell in love with dance in his second year of university that the course of his path changed for good. 

Since then, Rock's dance skills have taken him from street dancing outside Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui to fulfilling his dream to open a dance studio, Studiodanz. He shares that the journey wasn't without twists and turns––the opening was almost thwarted by lease issues, alongside other challenges––but that owning the studio is a "dream come true". 

Thanks to Mirror's success, and Fang's affiliation with the band, 2021 saw fans flocking to his studio to learn the dance moves of their favourite members. "Many people had never danced before, and this was their first class. [Mirror's] influence was clear in their decision to come––which was very touching. To see that their music was what had made people want to try a dance class for the first time; that was a good feeling".

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In addition to creating routines for the band, Rock Fang has also been instrumental in Anson Lo's solo success. Co-choreographing the dance moves for "Megahit" with the dance-singer, the two successfully set off a city-wide craze, propelling Lo to household-name status in the process. 

The pair began choreographing "Megahit" when the song was a demo audio track without lyrics. Upon hearing the music, Rock immediately thought hooks like "Uh-oh Uh-oh Uh-oh", "Boom Boom Boom", and "Bang Bang Bang" would work for the track. But, confiding with Lo, he shared his concerns that he wasn't sure how to choreograph moves that worked with his ideas. He was also concerned that once the lyrics of the song were completed, the sounds would be sacrificed for their literal meanings. 

"The lyrics are one of the most important elements of Cantonese songs. When a lyricist tries to put complex thoughts into a relatively short song, he needs to use many words to fill in the lyrics. This can cause some iconic dance moves to be lost." Fang explains. 

Anson shared his concerns and discussed the dilemma with the famous modern Cantonese lyricist Wyman Wong. He asked Wyman to keep as many unique rhythms and sounds as possible. Wyman accepted, allowing Fang and Lo more space to play with the choreography. "This is just one of the many reasons the song was a success," Rock told us.

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When beginning to choreograph "Megahit", Rock started with a sophisticated routine––complete with many complicated steps. A trained dancer, Anson Lo perfected the moves quickly. However, both began to think: "How can we design moves that kids and adults in Hong Kong can have fun dancing together?" In just a few minutes, the signature gesture of the "Uh-oh Uh-oh Uh-oh" move was born.

Lo and Fang decided that the dance moves should be lively and straightforward—while still being exciting enough to engage Lo's legions of fans. To strike a balance, Rock kept the choreography of the verses challenging. "Doing the small things perfectly is difficult––Anson Lo did an amazing job," he said. 

"Anson has a special ability—his body understands and connects with music, and he uses this skill to execute his moves perfectly. Every performer has a different vibe, and I appreciate Anson Lo's performances and style very much. He has a lot of dance skills that I don't have. He can personalise the moves and put his spin on them without affecting the original choreography. Everything [with Anson] just fits very well––his vibe, appearance, and moves. I'm always honoured to see talented and distinctive people perform my dances, and he is one of those people."

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Before finding fame––and a thousands-strong fanbase––with Mirror on ViuTV's talent show "Good Night Show", Anson Lo taught dance classes at Fang's Studiodanz. Rock believes Lo's story can serve as inspiration for young Hong Kongers––that hard work and sustained effort can lead to success. "Sometimes, dancers (in Hong Kong) believe (in this industry) that they can't make money and have no future. I disagree. Anson Lo is a perfect example. He achieved success by making his own effort and hard work––which is inspirational. Not everyone takes the same path, but there is always a way out."

The twelve members of Mirror vary in their strengths when it comes to dancing, and so it can be challenging to create balanced routines that work for them all. Coupled with the band's busy schedule, Rock has his work cut out when it comes to creating and teaching new choreography. 

"I've known Mirror since they appeared on 'Good Night Show' so I have a rough idea which dance moves each member excels in and which are more difficult. This makes it easier," he shares, smiling.

How to make sure each gets adequate exposure and dance parts in a performance? With dedicated fanbases for every member, this is a discussion topic that inspires heated debate online. Rock's secret to keeping it balanced? "The choreography needs to match with the singing. If a team member sings less, I'll programme more dance parts for him to try to be fair. Of course, I know some fans support specific individual members only. I hope they understand that Mirror works better as a team."

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Spinning multiple plates is nothing new for Rock, who is used to having several choreography projects in the works at once. Sometimes he hits a bottleneck when he struggles with a lack of ideas. "It is important to live a chilled life. Although dancing is what I love to do, sometimes I feel suffocated when I encounter a creative block. When this happens, I stop working immediately and do something else to relax," Fang––who often shares videos of himself playing the guitar or singing on social media––explains. 

Rock worked with Mirror for most of 2021. His highlight? Their "One & All" Live 2021 concert. He reflects on how much the band have accomplished in the months following––securing solo successes, appearing larger than life on billboards across the city, performing at “Moov Live: Music On The Road” concert and the New Year's Eve concert on Central Harbourfront

"I don't understand how Mirror can accomplish so much in so little time and just how much we've achieved together. We've done everything from choreographing group songs and solo songs, to (short performances for) advertisements, functions, and events. It seems impossible––but we've done it!', he tells us as he bursts out laughing. 

"The fact that they were able to hold a sold-out, profitable concert at Star Hall and revive the entertainment industry in the process is a milestone. I'm tired, but I know Mirror are more tired than I am. Hopefully, they'll get a chance to take a break from their busy schedules to rest, and that they keep enjoying what they're doing." 

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