Fri, Mar 22, 2002 - Page 7 News List

Festival broadens horizons

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

The confusion between the Taipei government-sponsored Taipei Arts Festival and the independently organized Taipei City International Arts Festival has been clarified for everybody's benefit, not least people who love the performance arts, in the transformation of the latter into the 2002 Formosa International Arts Festival. This newly named event, which is actually the fourth in a series organized by Taipei Arts International Association (TAIA), will run between April 3 and June 16, and bring a wide range of modern performance theater to Taiwan -- and this year, will be pushing the boundaries of artistic conventions further than ever under its heading "multiplicity."

In 1999, Serina Chen (陳琪), Chairperson of TAIA, took over the management of the Taipei Arts Festival. She subsequently made the festival independent of the city government, making her event the premier showcase for international avant-garde performance arts. The festival followed the theme of "movement" with "voice and sound" in 2000 and then "image" in 2001. The themes gave audiences a chance to see the creative diversity that existed within various art forms, but Chen herself was pushing the festival towards interdisciplinary performance. The "image" theme provided for performers who incorporated mediums as different as dance and video, and included such internationally famous groups as Ultima Vez and the Arena Theatre Company.

This year, Chen's propensity for blurring the conventional boundaries of performance art is given the ultimate sanction in the theme of this year's event: "Multiplicity -- New Vision of Experience." It is a measure of the lack of commitment to outstanding performance over dogmatic adherence to avant-garde ideology that The Han-Tang Yuefu Ensemble -- a group that specializes in the venerable form of nankuan opera -- is present in the lineup.

This year the events include:

4/3-4/9 Spymonkey with Stiff ...

Undertaking, Undertaking at the Kaohsiung Culture Center, Chih-teh Hall, the Taipei Municipal Education Hall, and the Changhua County Yuanlin Performance Hall

4/20,4/21 The Han-Tang Yuefu Ensemble (台灣漢唐樂府) with the world premiere of The Feast of Han Xizai (韓熙載夜宴圖) at the National Theater 5/3-5/5 Dance Forum Taipei (台北舞蹈空間舞團) with Forbidden Party (禁忌競技派對 -- 頹箱二部曲) at Whashan Arts District 5/9,5/10 Zuni Icosahedron (香港進念_二十面體) with Four Grand Inventions (四大發明) at the Taipei Municipal Education Hall 5/10-5/13 Cie Eolipile with Tsai Ming Liang (法國&台灣當代游神舞團與蔡明亮) with Bastard (傢伙) at Whashan Arts District 5/24-6/2 Shanghai Dance Company (上海歌舞團) with A Dance Evening with Huang Dou-dou (黃豆豆與上海歌劇團精選) at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the Hsinchu Municipal Performance Hall and the Taichung Country Cultural Center 6/7-6/11 Dynamo Theatre from Canada with Lili (莉莉日記) at the National Theater and the Hsinchu Municipal Performance Hall 6/13,14,16 Centre Choregraphique National d'Orleans from France with Les Veilleurs at the National Theater Solo Series 5/4 to 5/18 Taipei Crown Theater (台北皇冠小劇場) and Taichung's Stock 21 (台中廿一號倉庫)

While this year's festival continues a commitment to bringing in top-of-the-line foreign acts from all over the world -- this year, while the festival continues its close relationship with the British Council, it has also linked up this year with the French Institute, the Canadian Trade Office and the Russian Trade Office -- it also includes a stronger local presence than before, an affirmation of the creative talent from Taiwan. Most notably on this score is the joint production between dancer Lin Yuan-shang (林原上) -- an expatriate based in France -- and film director Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮), whose reputation as one of the world's great directors has recently been confirmed by the adulation with which his most recent film, What Time is it There? has been received.

Local talent will also be on display. Forbidden Party by The Taipei Dance Forum, in which Taipei Arts International Association is making a bold move by exploiting the massive, unstructured space of the disused winery that Whashan Arts District (華山藝文特區) has acquired as a major arts/party venue. As a counterbalance to this, there is the Han-Tang Yuefu Ensemble with the world premiere of The Feast of Han Xizai (韓熙載夜宴圖), one of its most ambitions projects to date, which has already received bookings from the Netherlands National Opera House and the Barbican Arts Center in London.

A new addition to the program of the festival is a series devoted to solo artists, who display another aspect of performance. While here again there are a number of purely traditional shows, with Zhou Lung (周龍) and Ke Chun (柯軍), top exponents of Beijing and Kun opera respectively, artists such as Taiwan's Chen Huei-wen (陳惠文) or the human/video interactive D.A.V.E. from Austria are redefining the very nature of solo performance.

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