Fri, Dec 19, 2008 - Page 14 News List

Yule be in the mood for a little song and dance

By Diane Baker  /  STAFF REPORTER

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Dancer/choreographer Grace Hsiao (蕭靜文) was a student and disciple of Taiwan’s modern dance pioneer, the late Tsai Jui-yueh (蔡瑞月). She established her own company, the Grace Hsiao Dance Theater (蕭靜文舞蹈團), in 1985 both to perform her own works and to reconstruct and preserve those of her beloved teacher.

Their relationship was more than that of student-teacher; Tsai was the mother-in-law of Grace’s sister, Ondine Hsiao (蕭渥廷), who is a dance teacher.

One of Tsai’s traditions was to have a Christmas party for her students and their families, and the Hsiao sisters have kept this tradition alive since Tsai moved to Australia in 1983 (she died there in 2005).

Tomorrow night, the sisters are throwing open the gates of the rebuilt Japanese-style studio that was Tsai’s base in Taipei for decades, the Rose Historic Site, for a three-and-a-half hour Christmas party.

“It’s a tradition started by my teacher, Tsai Jui-yueh, 60 years ago,” Grace Hsiao said in a telephone interview on Wednesday night.

“It’s a party, not just for dance students or dance lovers, but for everyone to enjoy. All Taipei residents,” she said. “Everyone is welcome.”

The party will be hosted by DJ Marcus Aurelius (another family connection; he’s the nephew of Grace’s husband David Maurice) and Huang Yi-yun (黃亦筠).

The festivities begin with a dance performance by students of the Grace Hsiao Dance Theater, followed by jazz music by Mandy Gaines & Friends.

Two more bands will play, Beatbox and Jesus Rocks (搖滾主耶穌), and there will also be some caroling, Grace said.

“There was an 1875 Taiwanese hymn book with four Aboriginal songs and I’m going to sing one of them,” she said.

PERFORMANCE NOTES:

WHAT: Tsai Jui-yueh Dance Research Institute Christmas Party

WHEN: Tomorrow from 6:30pm to 10pm

WHERE: Tsai Jui-yueh Dance Research Institute/Rose Historic Site (蔡瑞月舞蹈社), 4F, 40-1, Zongshan N Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市中山北路二段40-1號4樓)

ADMISSION: Free; for more information call (02) 2560-5724 or visit www.dance.org.tw/modules/news/article.php?storyid=47


In keeping with another tradition, there will also be a short foot-washing ceremony.

“In between [the bands], a minister will wash some people’s feet. It’s a tradition from the Bible to inspire people to be kind to others ... ” Grace said.

“We also have a wishing tree. You can write a note, for peace on earth or whatever, and put it on the tree,” she said.

“Usually we have 200 to 300 people, but after our big performance this year [the 2008 Tsai Jui-yueh Dance Festival 3, which was held a few weeks ago] and because my company is still down south on tour, I’m a little late in getting the promotion out,” she said.

The studio is a great place to enjoy a performance under the stars. Chairs and bleachers are set up on the lawn, and the folding doors of the studio are pushed back so it can be used as a theater.

However, it is December, and while it’s great to be outside when its sunny during the day, the temperatures can drop rapidly in the evening, so Grace said to remember to dress warmly.

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