Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 18 News List

The blind who teach us to see

By Vico Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

The dancers of the New Bodo Troupe express themselves from a world of darkness.

PHOTO: VICO LESS, TAIPEI TIMES

New Bodo Troupe of the Visually Impaired (新寶島視障者藝團) is this weekend kicking off its 5th anniversary celebration with a series of performances viewed by the group as the best they've presented so far. A modern dance piece Stop, Watch? Listen will open the program tonight, followed by a modernized comedy adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Warden of the Tomb and Falling Leaves Next Door, (落葉飄落到鄰家) an invitational monologue performance by well-known Hong Kong blind actor Bo Shin-yi (保新誼).

Stop, Watch? Listen, is choreographed by Chen Yi-chin (陳怡靜), and likens life to a train ride, where each stop along the route offers distinct surprises for those who pay attention.

Having worked for four months with the group's nine dancers, some completely blind while others can see only patches of light, Chen was touched by the way the visually impaired approach the world. "What we perceive by seeing, the visually impaired do by touching and listening. While seeing is very fast and direct, it's easy for us to be too cursory in understanding one thing before quickly moving on to the next. We miss the significant details of things that are not always revealed at a first glance," Chen said at a rehearsal. "Blind people may be slow in perceiving things, but in stopping, touching things or people and listening to the slight movements of the world around them, they sometimes gain a deeper insight into the world than those who can see."

Part of the 70-minute dance is accompanied by soliloquies spoken by the dancers. Most of them are in the habit of keeping journals in audio form. Like all journals, they tell little life stories that encompass the melancholy to the joyous. One male dancer laughingly talks on the recording about his embarrassment when he, shopping in a market, tried to buy some bras which he had mistaken for steamed cakes.

Although all amateurs, the New Bodo dancers present themselves with serious professionalism. "Performing has helped me realized my potential. To be on stage is a great way of sharing how we perceive the world using a different combination of senses from most people," said Lu Mao-ying (劉懋瑩), a founding member of the troupe, "I hope I will still be performing five years from now."

New Bodo Troupe will perform Stop, Watch? Listen at 7:30pm today and tomorrow and The Warden of the Tomb at 7:30pm Sunday and August 29. Bo Yi-shin will perform Falling Leaves Next Door, a personal history monologue on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 at 7:30pm. All performances are at New Bodo Theater (新寶島小劇場), 3F, 214 Minsheng W Rd, Taipei. (台北市民生西路2143). Tickets are NT$250 and are available at the venue.

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