Fri, Dec 14, 2007 - Page 15 News List

Through a looking glass

By Diane Baker  /  STAFF REPORTER

TAV is getting its wires crossed with Thin Glass, Bright Light.


American dancer-choreographer Casey Avaunt is finishing up her three-month residency at the Taipei Artist Village (TAV, 台北國際藝術村鋼琴室) tomorrow night with Thin Glass, Bright Light (薄玻璃), the theme of which should hit home for lots of people: miscommunication.

In her program notes, Avaunt said the piece seeks to examine the experience the people have of trying make connections when they live in a world that is absurd, indifferent or lonely.

"Sometimes these connections are successful and sometimes they are not. I have been inspired by my time in Taiwan as I feel that being in a foreign country illuminates the feelings of absurdity or confusion," she wrote.

Avaunt's residency at TAV has been her third encounter with Taiwan. The Colorado College graduate first came to Taipei in 2005, thanks to one of her professors, Wang Yun-yu (王雲幼), who also teaches at the National Taiwan University of the Arts (NTUA).

During her time at NTUA, Avaunt studied Chinese meditation and taichi, which had a profound impact on her as a dancer.

"I learned how to breathe, how to relocate the center of the body, how to shift my weight," she said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. "It's given me a new dimension, a new way to choreograph."

She came back in October last year to take part in the eighth Asia Arts Festival, where she danced in a piece by Sun Chuo-tai (孫梲泰). That was when she heard about TAV. But it was Wang, who uses the TAV program to send Taiwanese dancers to Colorado College, who suggested she apply for a residency.

The 40-minute Thin Glass, Bright Light has evolved substantially from what Avaunt planned when she was writing her application for TAV. In her proposal, she said working with Taiwanese dancers had left her both amazed at how the universal language of the body had allowed them to communicate without a common language, and left her wondering what had been lost in translation.

Performance notes:

What: Casey Avaunt, Thin Glass, Bright Light (薄玻璃)

When: Tomorrow night at 7pm and 8:30pm

Where: Piano Room, Taipei Artist Village (台北國際藝術村鋼琴室),

7 Beiping E Rd, Taipei City (台北市北平東路7號)

Tickets: NT$150; contact Ms Yang at 02-3393-7377, X102 or e-mail

"This time I really gained a new perspective on dance," she said. "Being here has opened my mind to new ideas, to new ways of doing things."

It also made her realize the importance of the smallest nuances.

"One of the things that I've learned is that Asian people really pay attention to details," she said.

Thin Glass, Bright Light is for four dancers: Avaunt, fellow American Leah Rybolt, Chan Fu-ling (詹馥菱) and Sun.

"I really wanted to open up to a new way, a new form of choreography. I didn't have a lot of time for research so I would ask the Taiwanese dancers, 'tell me what you think of this idea.' One of the dancers is a choreographer with more than 10 years experience, so he had a lot of ideas," she said.

She said it also changed because she let go.

"I felt like I could not take control. It was very scary. I didn't know how it [the piece] was going to change," she said, adding, "It was really enjoyable, different in a good way [from my usual work]."

Avaunt also experimented with the music, creating the score on her computer using the Garage Band program.

"The music is a combination of different sounds, bubbles, breathing, a little Chopin ... a little speaking," she said. "I've tried creating my own sounds before, but not like this kind of mix."

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