Fri, May 05, 2006 - Page 14 News List

The line between dance to theater is no more

By Lin Ya-ti  /  STAFF REPORTER

The 2006 New Idea Dance (新點子舞展), organized by the National CKS Cultural Center, will feature performances by three modern dance companies at the National Experimental Theater (國家實驗劇場). Taipei Crossover Dance Company's (台北越界舞團) new production The Island of Silence (默島樂園) choreographed by director Ho Hsiao-mei (何曉玫) will make its debut at the opening of this annual experimental dance festival.

Every appearance is a breakthrough for Taipei Cross-over Dance Company (台北越界舞團), which has constantly pushed the boundaries of creative dance forms and ideas.

The troupe was founded in 1994 by veteran dancers, Yeh Tai-chu (葉台竹), Cheng Shu-gi (鄭淑姬), Wu Su-chun (吳素君), and Lo Man-fei (羅曼菲), along with Taiwan's foremost lighting and stage designer, Lin Keh-hua (林克華). It has toured extensively around the world and its cross-cultural performances have encompassed both ancient and modern as well as Eastern and Western themes.

Following its production last year of a song and dance ensemble based on a Han Dynasty legend with Chinese-born nanguan (南管) musician Wang Xin-in (王心心), the troupe switches gear this year to focus on Taiwanese folk and popular culture. The Island of Silence aims to highlight some absurd elements of Taiwanese culture, such as home television shopping programs and betel nut vendors.

The Island of Silence is ironically named in contrast to the hurly-burly of Taiwanese culture. Inspired by yi ge (藝閣, traditional Taiwanese mobile stages), part of the stage is turned into a modern-day betel nut stall. A Taiwanese traditional glove puppet show (布袋戲) is also incorporated, although lifeless puppets are replaced by three dancers. The 3m-high mobile stage on which the three dancers perform represents Taiwan's unique mobile strip dance culture (電子花車文化).

Theatrical performing artist Hsu Yen-ling (徐堰鈴) is to perform in the guise of a betel nut vendor.

Ho said at a press conference held on Tuesday in Taipei that Hsu is more of an actress than a dancer but works very hard to master difficult dance steps.

Ho also invited Hsu Chieh-hui (許傑輝), star of the well-known Taiwanese TV program Everybody Speaks Nonsense (全民大悶鍋), to play the role of a salesperson who tries to convince the audience to buy his "dream-making machine" made by the brand "Clam Shell" (蚌殼牌製夢機). With Hsu's previous experience in the theatrical arts as well as his professional acting skills, he brings a touch of humor to the production. Hong Kong-based acrobatic dancer Akash's strong and flexible body holds the complete attention of the audience.

Through the interaction with the hidden camera installed inside a portable and swinging lamp, Akash projects images of herself, the audience, and other surrounding elements on to a backstage screen. Audiences are invited not only to watch but also to participate.

Ho's dance discards traditional forms. It is an innovative fusion. By incorporating dance movements, lighting, installation props and digital projections, as well as Chen Yong's (陳揚) music score, Ho produces theater that takes place through virtual environments.

The Island of Silence will be performed at the National Experimental Theater, 21-1, Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei (台北市中山南路21-1號), tonight and tomorrow at 7:30pm, and tomorrow and Sunday at 2:30pm. Tickets are NT$450 and are available through NTCH ticketing.

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