Fri, Feb 21, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Giving peace a dance

By Vico Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

Grace Hsiao Dance Theater stages six works by Australian choreographer Elizabeth Cameron Dalman in Crossing Tracks II.

PHOTO: VICO LEE, TAIPEI TIMES

Elizabeth Cameron Dalman became the pioneer of modern dance in Australia when she founded the Australian Dance Theater in 1965. It was the first modern dance group in her country and the first to be granted a government subsidy. For nearly forty years, Dalman has taught and collaborated with numerous dancers in various countries, including Taiwan.

One year after Grace Hsiao (蕭靜文) and her dance group held a workshop with Dalman, during which the two choreographers warmly exchanged their ideas about dance and culture, they decided to go one step further by producing a performance together.

In Crossing Tracks II -- A Meeting of Two Cultures (交軌II文化之匯), Grace Hsiao Dance Theater (蕭靜文舞蹈團) will perform six of the Australian choreographer's pieces dating from 1965 to 1972. Dalman trained the performers in these old works because "it's important for young dancers to understand the history of modern dance," she said.

Sun and Moon, the opening piece of the show, is adopted from an Australian aboriginal legend, which represents the sun as a woman and the moon as a man.

"In modern dance, female dancers' movements are usually more activated and male dancers' more smooth. It's just like the legend," Dalman said.

This piece will be performed in Taiwan for the second time. Dalman staged it in 1971 when she was touring in Taiwan. Her performance so inspired Tsai Ruei-yuei (蔡瑞月), the Taiwanese choreographer known as the "mother of Taiwan's modern dance," that Tsai sent her son to Australia to study under Dalman.

Prayer, created in 1972, will probably strike a chord with audiences today with its human-rights theme and anti-war message. Based on a true story that occurred during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the dance tells the tragic story of a Catholic girl who falls in a love with a Protestant soldier, then accidentally shoots him dead. Grace Hsiao's dancers act out the story with such precision and feeling that this piece is the highlight of the show.

The only shortcoming of this otherwise superb production is that Round-15 (15劇場), a new performance venue, falls short of providing ideal acoustics and visuals. Fortunately, the performance of Grace Hsiao's company is enough to make up for that.

Crossing Tracks II -- A Meeting of Two Cultures will be performed at Round-15 Theater, 3F, 40-1 Chungshan N. Rd., Sec. 2, Taipei (台北市中山北路段40-13) at 8pm tonight and tomorrow. Matinee performance will be hold at 2:30pm tomorrow. Tickets are NT$400 and available at the venue or through Grace Hsiao Dance Theater at tel (02) 2560-5724 or (02) 2567-3752.

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