Cloud Gate Dance Theatre's (雲門舞集) second company, Cloud Gate 2, turns 10 this year, and it is clearly working hard to establish a reputation as strong as that of its big sister. Just how well it is doing will be on display in its Spring Riot tour, which begins next Friday at Taipei’s Novel Hall.
The starring role in production has been given to Cloud Gate 2's resident guest choreographer Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍) new work, *The Wall (牆).
The 32-year-old Cheng has held the post for three years, and his works for the company have become progressively more challenging.
The 21-minute The Wall, set to Michael Gordon's Weather One, is fast-paced, circles within circles. Cheng's dancers often appear isolated, emotionless; there is little, if any, eye contact between the dancers, or with the audience.
“This music has so much emotion, but still it's minimal. I keep telling them, ‘No emotion in the face, the emotion is in every movement and the music. You put it together [and it] creates the emotion. You don’t need to do angry, don't need to do sad,’” Cheng said after a press rehearsal in Jingmei on March 22.
“I like a big distance. Maybe it's inside [of me], maybe I'm scared, maybe I don't want to say too much. I like the wall; I feel safe,” he said.
The Wall is so fast, one has to wonder if Cheng is trying to kill the dancers.
“I hope so,” Cheng said with a laugh. “When I'm the choreographer I'm always confused and crazy. I don’t know why [or] what can I do. Maybe the bar [my standard] is too high.”
TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW
His bar maybe high, but it’s paying off. Cheng was off two days later for New York City with the other members of Horse Dance Theater (驫舞劇場) to perform Bones this week at the Joyce Theater as part of Eliot Feld’s Mandance Project. From New York he heads to Hong Kong, where the arts school will be doing his piece White Tape, before coming back for Spring Riot.
WHAT: Cloud Gate 2, Spring Riot 2009
WHEN: April 10 and April 11 at 7:30pm; April 12 at 2:30pm; April 15 to April 18 at 7:30pm; April 19 at 2:30pm
WHERE: Novel Hall (新舞台), 3-1 Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路3-1號)
ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES: April 24 at 7:30pm and April 25, 2:30pm at the Performance Hall of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Hsinchu County (新竹縣文化局演藝廳), 146 Siancheng 9th Rd, Jhubei, Hsinchu County (新竹縣竹北市縣政九路146號).
May 1 at 7:30pm and May 2 at 2:30pm at Taichung Chungshan Hall (台中市中山堂), 98 Syuehsi Rd, Taichung City (台中市學士路98號); May 8 at 7:30pm and May 9 at 2:30pm at the Chih-teh Hall, Kaohsiung Cultural Center (高雄市文化中心至德堂), 67 Wufu 1st Rd, Kaohsiung City (高雄市五福一路67號
ADMISSION: NT$300 to NT$1,200, available through NTCH ticketing or online at www. artsticket.com.tw or www.cloudgate.org.tw/cg/ticket
Another member of Horse is dancer/choreographer Huang Yi (黃翊), whose Body, Sound (身音) was such a hit for Cloud Gate 2 last year. Huang may be only 25 but he has been making waves on the dance scene for several years.
His new work is Flow (流魚), set to Greek avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis’ Shaar, which has a very horror movie feel to it. Huang said Feld turned him on to Xenakis.
“Two years ago Horse went to New York to do Velocity at the Joyce. After the show Eliot Feld invited us to his house for a party. He played some music that he really loved and that's when I first heard Xenakis, it really touched me,” Huang said. “I've already used this music two times before. It’s like people screaming, like people going crazy. I hope the audience can see the dancers panicking. It’s like the people in Taiwan now, they’re very unsure. People are screaming but its' not very clear.”
“He [Xenakis] was also an architect so his music was very harsh. His sketches are very clear and sharp. Each of the skethes is a different concept of music. He gave me a lot of ideas … helped me think of the organic structure to movement,” Huang said.
In Flow, dancers gather in small groups, and then quickly scatter. The Chinese title for Huang’s piece is “Flowing Fish.”
“It's like throwing a stone into a group of fish; they scatter but then return,” he said.
Huang credits Feld with helping him define what it means to be a choreographer.