Kaohsiung City Ballet (KCB) is putting on a treat for ballet lovers around Taiwan. On a mini tour of southern Taiwan, it will perform an adapted version of classical ballet Paquita and two newly choreographed contemporary ballets, Blossom (綻) and Moonlight Sonata (月光奏鳴曲) by Lee Chung-chun (李靜君), Cloud Gate Dance Theater associate artistic director and recipient of the 2004 National Culture and Arts Foundation Literary and Arts Award.
This year marks KCB's 15th anniversary. Under the guidance of Artistic Director Chang Hsiu-ru (張秀如), the company has been recognized for its versatility and excellence in performing classical and contemporary ballet works. It has been selected as a distinguished performing arts group by the Executive Yuan's Council of Cultural Affairs in six consecutive years from 2001.
In last year's production of a literary ballet Love in Cities (傾城之戀), based on Eileen Chang's (張愛玲) novel, Chang Hsiu-ru invited Lee to choreograph “When Wind Blows” (起風的時候) — one of the eight segments of Love in Cities — which explores the state of loneliness. This year, Lee has been once again invited to work with KCB to create two new works, Blossom and Moonlight Sonata, based on her own appreciation of nature and life.
Moonlight Sonata, which is danced to Beethoven's music of the same name, was choreographed in memory of dancers and choreographers Wu Kuo-chu (伍國柱) and Lo Man-fei (羅曼菲), who passed away earlier this year. Lee's choice of the first movement of Beethoven's music — so languidly beautiful and heart-wrenching — is perfect for the expression of sorrow for those departed. Lee created this solo work for Cloud Gate II dancer and rehearsal director Chen Chiu-yin (陳秋吟), as Chen also felt great sorrow at the death of these luminaries of Taiwan's dance scene.
In a telephone interview with Lee on Monday, she said, “Chen and I developed a deep and wonderful choreographer-dancer relationship. Chen could get a grip on the idea I wanted to convey without having to be too explicit. Chen is the kind of dancer who possesses great [technical and expressive] precision.” Chen's captivating solo movements will reflect both the choreographer's and her own psychological states.
Lee's other work, Blossom, is composed of four segments set to Bach's solo and double violin concertos. When asked why Blossom and why Bach, Lee replied, “I have an intimate appreciation for American artist Georgia O'Keeffe's dramatic painting of gigantic flowers. I was inspired by O'Keeffe's “metaphoric” portrait of flowers and the overwhelming size of the bloom.” O'Keeffe once said plainly, “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven't time, and to see takes time — in the same way as to have a friend takes time.”
Accompanied by Lee's favorite baroque score for violins, the choice of music seems to echo O'Keeffe's personal experience since the artist used to play violin as another way of expressing her innermost feelings. Lee said this 11-dancer piece constructed in solo, duo, trio, and other combinations can be viewed as “pure” movement depicting nature, just as sound and rhythm are the language of musicians. Walking through the dance and breathing with Bach's score, which goes from allegro to largo and back again, seems to make up a life cycle and connote the renewal of the living creature.