Taiwan’s first all-male dance troupe, the Horse Dance Theater (驫舞劇場), is at a critical juncture in its development. The four-year old troupe has achieved a certain degree of fame at home (their performances this weekend at the Experimental Theater are all sold-out), they made a well-received trip to New York City this spring and will go again next year, and won top honors in the performance category of this year’s Taishin Art Awards with the film of their last show, Velocity (速度). But their setup as a “dance cooperative” means the company has struggled to present a unified voice, while the competing demands of each member’s solo career make scheduling difficult.
It is perhaps fitting then, that the theme of this year’s show, Bones, is love and the unseen ties that bind people together, events together, and support them.
The ties that bind the five dancer/choreographers that make up Horse — founder and artistic director Chen Wu-kang (陳武康), Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍), Chou Shu-yi (周書毅), Su Wei-chia (蘇威嘉) and Yang Yu-min (楊育鳴) — go back at least 10 years. Chen, Cheng and Yang have known each other since junior high school. It is this friendship that unites them, even though they have taken different professional paths.
“We have trained from different stages, with different choreographers, graduated from different schools and our careers are very different. Wu-kang went to New York [where he dances with Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech], Tsung-lung went to Cloud Gate and we all do different things,” Yang said in an interview at Horse’s studio in Panchiao last Friday.
But he admitted that getting five determined men to agree on an idea or how to move forward can be difficult, adding “sometimes it’s a ‘Mission Impossible.”
WHAT: Horse Dance Theater (驫舞劇場)
WHEN: Tonight and tomorrow at 7:30pm, tomorrow and Sunday at 2:30pm
WHERE: Experimental Theater of the National Theater (國家戲劇院實驗劇場), 21-1, Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)
TICKETS: Sold out
“This time for me the difficulty is that we are all very different, so how can we use the same language to the audience?” Cheng said.
Although Cheng was one of the original members of the company, he did not take part in the shows over the past two years. He said he deliberated for about two months after Chen asked him to take part in this year’s show because he doesn’t like to dance anymore.
“I have to push myself. I like to sit and think about choreographing … I don’t want to dance anymore; you’re fighting your body everyday if you want to go on stage,” Cheng said.
Su said having Cheng back with the group was good, because Cheng really pushed the rest to think about what they were doing.
“We also wanted to make the piece only about dance, about the body,” he said, so they got rid of the props that featured heavily in their previous performances.
This time there will be just a white room, white floor, side walls and a back wall that looms toward the audience.
They are also moving in a different direction in terms of their score, using a soundscape created by French sound artist Yannick Dauby, whom Chou met and worked with when they both had residencies last year at Taipei Artist Village.
Dauby said it has been an interesting collaboration for him because he was asked to join the project after it was well underway.
“I couldn’t do a sound universe … so I wrote some music with more energy for the movement; all kinds of music from my own taste, from industrial music to Papua New Guinea. What was interesting to me was not to find something that would match [the movement] and provide a subtitle, but to have a dialogue between sound and the dancers,” Dauby said.