Image in Motion Theater Company (影舞集) was established three years ago for a project that sought to combine the latest in multimedia installations with dance, presenting the whole on a full-sized theater stage.
Given the limits of Taiwan's theater technology, this was a bold undertaking, but served as a learning experience for all those involved and proved successful enough for a sequel. The result is @Dream -- Not a Love Story II, which will be presented at the National Theater Taipei this weekend.
According to Serina Chen (陳琪), the producer of Image in Motion, the company decided to go ahead with the project despite the cancellation of numerous other theatrical events.
"Too much had already gone into the project. It has been a two year marathon to get this show on the road. It was just not possible to call a halt at the last moment," she said at a press conference yesterday.
In some respects, SARS fears worked to the advantage of this show as cancellations of Pina Bausch allowed a longer set-up time. Given the small number of professional venues, preparation time for shows in Taiwan is notoriously short, especially for such highly technical shows as @Dream.
"It is like bringing together a Hollywood movie and a Broadway theater show," Chen said. The complexity of the set, with its multiple projection surfaces and animated images, with which the dancers interact, is remarkable to behold but tends to overwhelm the dance.
Lin Ke-hua (林克華), one of Asia's top theater lighting consultants was brought in to set up the multimedia aspects of the stage, bringing with him experience from the highly regarded stage settings for Cloud Gate's Cursive (行草).
"I have a pretty good handle on most aspects of theater lighting," he said, "But this project was 100 times, even 200 times, more complex. We had a margin of error [in the placement of screens] of only 5cm, and this for such a huge stage," Lin said.
What he emphasized, and what Image in Motion's production has sought to bring to the fore, is that the set can be a living element within a production.
Unfortunately, the technical complexity of the production seems to carry across into the dancing itself, which lacks fluidity. Although one of the most physical dance shows put on by a Taiwan dance group recently, it lacks sensuousness and even physicality, as dancers seem to clamber over each other in demanding lifts. The moves are often impressive rather than beautiful.
The move from the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall -- where the first show was performed two years ago -- to the National Theater, has given Image in Motion more room to move as far as stage set up is concerned, and this may well be one of the most complex stage settings yet created by a Taiwan dance group.
For this, if for no other reason, @Dream is worth the price of the ticket. The CKS Cultural Center has taken numerous precautions against the SARS virus so that shows have not been canceled and can continue in an environment of total safety for both the performers and the audience.
@Dream -- Not a Love Story II will be performed today and tomorrow at 7:45pm and tomorrow and Sunday at 2:45pm, at the National Theater Taipei. Tickets are NT$300 to NT$1,500 from the CKS Cultural Center and Acer ticketing.