Fri, Feb 20, 2009 - Page 15 News List

Not the same old song and dance

By David Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

VIEW THIS PAGE Music and dance of the Atayal (泰雅), Seediq (賽德克) and Siraya (西拉雅) tribes are among the featured performances tomorrow afternoon at Taipei Family Theater (台北市政府親子劇場).

The three-hour event — titled 2009 Musical Dedicated to Taiwan’s Tribal Angels — is being held by Taipei’s Crazy Horses Travel Agency (瘋馬旅行社), which arranges “eco-travel” tours to Aboriginal villages and towns across Taiwan.

“My goal is to let more people hear the sounds of [Taiwan’s tribes], see the beauty of their homes and hear some of their ancient songs,” says event organizer and Crazy Horses general manager Olson Lee (李文瑞).

But don’t expect the typical song-and-dance routines you might find at a five-star hotel in Hualien or Taitung, says Lee. He aims to present a more authentic picture of Aboriginal performing arts and culture.

“I want our customers to see the performances in their most original form. This way you can see something different,” he says.

The show naturally offers Lee a channel to promote his business, but it is also of personal importance to the 48-year-old, who is a Siraya Aborigine.

Lee says he conceived the event with the hope of establishing a “cultural connection” between Han Taiwanese and Aboriginal communities, while presenting the artists in a less “commercial” setting.

The show also differs in that performers choose their own material, a departure from the norm for Aboriginal artists in the tourism industry, Lee says. “Performers have always been asked to perform what the mainstream market wants to see. So every tribe’s dance routines appear the same.”

Tomorrow’s acts include some experienced artists. Pidelo Wuga (比得洛-烏嘎), a member of the Seediq tribe, makes and plays his own xylophones and piccolo flutes. Wuga is also the lead actor in the upcoming film Seediq Bale (賽德克巴萊) by Cape No. 7 (海角七號) director Wei Te-sheng (魏德勝).


WHAT: 2009 Musical Dedicated to Taiwan’s Tribal Angels (2009部落天使 感恩音樂劇)

WHEN: Tomorrow from 2pm to 5pm. A market selling Aboriginal crafts opens at 1:30pm

WHERE: Taipei Family Theater (台北市政府親子劇場), 2F, Taipei City Hall, 1 Shifu Rd, Taipei City (台北市市府路1號2樓)

TICKET: NT$200, NT$350, NT$600 and NT$1,000. For reservations contact Crazy Horses Travel at (02) 2778-1230. Tickets also available at the door


Tungtung Houwen (東冬-侯溫), a member of Taiwan’s renowned percussion and dance ensemble, U-Theater, will play the mouth harp and other traditional instruments of the Taroko Tribe (太魯閣族).

Also playing traditional instruments are Dali and Sayum (達利夫婦), a 30-something couple who were among the first to revive the facial tattooing practices of the Atayal since the practice was banned during the Japanese occupation.

Another highlight will be award-winning Puyuma singer Dingko Nan (南賢天), who has made numerous appearances at the National Concert Hall with singer Susie Chien (簡文秀).

Dance segments include a performance from the Hamoana Arts Group (哈莫瓦納舞團), which was started by Avai (陳友福), a member of the Tsou tribe and graduate of Fu Jen Catholic University’s (輔仁大學) law school. The group performs a “warrior’s dance” that depicts the relocation of Laiji (來吉), a Tsou village in the mountainous Alishan (阿里山) area.

One dance presents a more modern narrative. The Chike Hills 13 Turns Musical Group (十三灣劇場) recounts how a group of Siraya families relocated from Chiayi to their current home in Hualien County in 1959 because of a major flood.

The artists are long-time performers for Lee’s tours and have cooperated with him for more than a decade. Bringing them to Taipei, Lee says, will let more people “hear the voices of our tribes.”

“But the reason we can do this [event] is not because of me,” Lee says. “It’s because of the strength of the tribes.”VIEW THIS PAGE

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