Fri, May 30, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Praying for a heavenly performance

By Vico Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

Reaching for the sky.

PHOTO COURTESY OF KUMUD DANCE COMPANY

One of the few performances which have not been canceled or postponed due to the SARS epidemic, Kumud Dance Company's (谷慕特舞蹈劇場) Song of the Sky (天降、昇華), to be staged at the Novel Hall (新舞臺) tonight, will deliver a timely message -- a prayer to the heavens answered by a blessing from the gods.

Having prepared for this performance for the past one-and-a-half years, Wei Guang-ching (魏光慶), the founder, dancer and artistic director of the dance company, said that he hoped the theme of heavenly intervention would inspire the audience in their fight against the disease.

He said the group would donate all profits from its Taipei performance to set up a SARS medical fund.

The four episodes of The Heaven Descends, the first part of the show, are all inspired by Aboriginal folklore. Swimming Away tells the Tao tribe story about a mermaid snaring children near the seashore. Wei will take the part of the legendary animal in the solo piece, wearing only bodypaint.

Ying Yang, as its title suggests, deals with the two universal forces, as told in Ami folklore, where man and woman are represented by the sun and the moon. Circles looks at snakes -- a Paiwan tribe symbol.

Evaporation is a more modern-looking piece. To electronic music, four black-clad dancers twirl at amazing speeds and support each others' movements with precision and grace. These well-executed portraits of breezes and gales are breathtaking.

The audience may find it hard to relate the episodes to the stated theme of the show, but that does not render the performance any less enjoyable.

Being an Aboriginal Ami tribesman, Wei has made genuine efforts to incorporate Aboriginal traditions in his works. What makes his efforts valuable is that he manages to do so without stereotyping Aboriginal culture. Rather he fuses traditional Aboriginal viewpoints into his reflections on modern society.

Performance Notes:

Song of the Sky will be performed at 7:30 tonight and 2:30 and 7:30 tomorrow at Novel Hall, 3-1, Sungshou Rd, Taipei (台北市松壽路3-1). Tickets range from NT$300 to NT$600 and are available at Acer ticketing outlets. In July, it will tour Hsinchu, Hualien and Penghu. For tour schedules, call Kumud Dance Company at (02) 8973 1556.

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