The Taipei Dance Circle (光環舞集) cofounder and choreographer Liou Shaw-lu (劉紹爐) is as concerned as everyone else about and natural disasters. He thinks the answer is for people to look inward, try to calm their spirit and go on a pilgrimage to heal their souls. He also thinks modern dance has the answers — helped along with liberal applications of baby oil.
Fascinated by frictionless motion, for more than two decades Liou has created works that require his dancers to coat themselves with baby oil and move about on a special plastic carpet. They spin, slide and glide almost like ice skaters. Walking upright, however, is more problematic.
Liou’s latest creation, Pilgrims’ Dream, is a 70-minute work about four pilgrims who set out on a dark night to cross a vast desert. The score mixes the sound of wind and waves with contemporary Indian music, the guttural chants of Buddhist monks and the dancers’ own breathing.
“Most of the time we are very quiet, the music comes from inside,” Liou said.
For the first time in many years, there are no women dancers in the troupe. Liou said he didn’t set out to create an all-male work, it was just that over the years his female dancers have returned home to work in Ilan and Chiayi, a sign that the market for modern dance is growing in Taiwan.
Work on Pilgrims’ Dream began back in January. Liou and the others spent four months improvising before a video camera. He ended up with 20 90-minute DVDs to review, from which he picked the best elements and then worked on creating the structure to connect them.
During a dress rehearsal in the troupe’s Sanchong basement studio last Friday, the four men, clad only in flesh-colored thongs, a red dot on their foreheads and palms and soles stained red, moved through a series of solos, duets and ensemble vignettes that was fascinating to watch, though sometimes bizarre. How can you describe the sight of four men sliding around on their backs with their knees clenched to their chests?
WHAT: Pilgrims’ Dream by Taipei Dance Circle
WHERE AND WHEN: Tonight at 7:30pm, Tainan County Cultural Center (台南縣立文化中心), 23, Zhongzheng Rd, Hsining City, Tainan County (台南縣新營市中正路23號); Oct. 29 to Oct. 31 at 7:30pm, the National Taiwan Arts Education Center (國立臺灣藝術教育館), 47 Nanhai Rd, Taipei City (台北市南海路47號); Nov. 15 at 7:30pm, Chiayi Performing Arts Center (嘉義縣表演藝術中心), 265, Jianguo Rd Sec 2, Minhsiung Township, Chiayi County (嘉義縣民雄鄉建國路二段265號); Nov. 22 at 7:30pm, Ilan Municipal Auditorium (宜蘭演藝廳), 482, Zhongshan Rd Sec 2, Ilan City (宜蘭市中山路二段482號); Nov. 29 at 7:30pm, Hsinchu Municipal Auditorium (新竹市文化局演藝廳), 17, Tungta Rd Sec 2, Hsinchu City (新竹市東大路二段17號); Dec. 6 at 7:30pm, Changhua County Yuanlin Performance Hall (彰化縣員林演藝廳), 99, Ln 2, Chungcheng Rd, Yuanlin Township, Changhua County (員林鎮中正路2巷99號)
TICKETS: NT$300, NT$400 and NT$600 for Taipei; NT$250, NT$350 and NT$450 for Tainan, Chiayi, Ilan and Hsinchu; NT$200, NT$300, NT$500 and NT$600 for Changhua. Available through www.artsticket.com.tw
The company began a seven-stop tour last Saturday in Miaoli that takes them to Tainan County tonight before beginning a three-night run at the National Taiwan Arts Education Center in Taipei City on Wednesday.