Cloud Gate 2 (雲門2) has been very busy in recent weeks, getting ready for its four-city Spring Riot tour, which begins April 21 at Taipei’s Novel Hall.
The 11-year old troupe has been staging a Spring Riot almost as long as it has existed. The series, now in its 10th year, has been a showcase for emerging choreographers such as Bulareyaung Pagarlava (布拉瑞揚), Wu Kuo-chu (伍國柱), Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍), Huang Yi (黃翊) and Hong Kong’s Yuri Ng (伍宇烈), as well as more established ones such as Cloud Gate Dance Theatre founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民), Lo Man-fei (羅曼菲) and
Ku Ming-shen (古名伸).
For the first time in several years, there will not be a piece by either Lin or Lo on the program, leaving the focus on the troupe’s resident guest choreographers Cheng and Huang. The older generation will be represented by Ku, a professor at National Taipei University of the Arts (國立臺北藝術大學) and founder of Ku & Dancers (古名伸舞團). All three had works in last year’s program, but this edition’s creations promise to be very different.
The 34-year-old Cheng is now in his fourth year with Cloud Gate 2. His new 30-minute performance is entitled Crack (裂), not after the drug but after the lines that split a sidewalk, fracture a relationship, change a life.
In the program notes, Cheng quotes a line from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” He says the
nine-dancer piece is “a little strange.”
“I want to use all different styles, take all different styles and try to say something about my whole life,” he said in a telephone interview last month, adding that the score by Pan Rong-sheng (潘榮昇) encompasses Chinese opera, classical, rock and electronica music.
“When you look back at your life you try to look into the situations that made a ‘crack,’ for example my mother and father fighting when I was a child — that was a crack — when someone leaves my life, that moment is a crack,” Cheng said. “In doing this piece, I looked back but it also helped me look forward.”
All that introspection, combined with the usual mental anguish that Cheng goes through when he creates, led him to take up running.
“I’m running every day, between 3km and 4km. You have got to challenge yourself and then you believe you can do it. Every day I try to run a little more,” he said, although he admitted with a laugh that he would have to run a lot more before he would stop smoking.
Dancer-choreographer Huang, 26, is moving so fast that everyone else has to run to catch up with him. The Cloud Gate 2 show comes on the heels of two successes: His Spin 2010 show at the Experimental Theater in February was a sellout and critical success, and his 2007 pas de deux Whisper (低語) won him second place at the third Cross Connection Ballet International Choreography Competition in Copenhagen, Denmark, on April 2. Given his schedule, the only way
to catch up with Huang was with an e-mail interview.
Floating Domain (浮動的房間), set to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in D Minor arranged for piano, is an intensely personal piece, one inspired by Huang’s use of books, the Internet and his imagination to escape his family’s cramped home when he was growing up by creating a “floating room” in his mind.
“I want to share some stories of my life experience with the audience, especially when people feel alone,” he wrote. “We are living in our imaginations ... but we are all alone.”
The emotions of the characters are echoed in the mood — and colors — of the room, a room that can shift in size and space, just as the characters shift from human into a dog, table, chair or wall. The lead dancer falls into a wall made up of other dancers and “the wall catches her softly, like family, like a mother’s arms,” Huang wrote. “That’s what I think about ‘home,’ especially when you feel tired.”
While Cheng and Huang’s works explore interior landscapes, Ku’s 20-minute Endless Shore (碎浪海岸) was inspired by the coastline between Hualien and Taitung.
The interaction of the water and the shore and the ebb and flow of the waves appear a perfect fit for Ku’s choreography because she is the prime exponent in this country of what is known as Contact Improvisation. Ku’s piece builds layer upon layer, as the dancers crisscross the stage, running, jumping, chasing, touching or just standing still as others move around them.
They come together only to separate.
Cloud Gate 2’s six performances at Novel Hall will be followed by stops
in Hsinchu, Kaohsiung and Chiayi
WHAT: Cloud Gate 2, Spring Riot 2010
WHEN: April 21 to April 24 at 7:30pm and April 24 and April 25 at 2:30pm
WHERE: Novel Hall (新舞臺), 3-1 Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路3-1號)
ADMISSION: Tickets are NT$300 to NT$1,200, available through NTCH ticketing or online at www. artsticket.com.tw or www.cloudgate.org.tw/cg/ticket
ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES: May 1 at 7:30pm and May 2 at 2:30pm at National Chiao Tung University Arts Center (交通大學藝文中心), 1001 Tahsueh Rd, Hsinchu City (新竹市大學路1001號); May 8 at 7:30pm and May 9 at 2:30pm Chih-teh Hall (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); May 15 at 7:30pm and May 16 at 2:30pm at Chiayi Performing Arts Center (嘉義縣表演藝術中心演藝廳), 265, Jianguo Rd Sec 2, Minsyong Township, Chiayi County (嘉義縣民雄鄉建國路二段265號)
Scott Saulters wasn’t sure if his film had just taken one of the two top prizes at a recent film competition. Although Saulters has been in Taiwan for 15 years and is proficient in Mandarin, the award ceremony for the inaugural “Bi Tian Iann” (眯電影) short film contest was conducted entirely in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), a language he can’t speak. “I thought I heard it, but I didn’t want to look too excited,” he says. Despite his limited command of the tongue, Saulter’s entry, Wu Yu Tzu (烏魚子, mullet roe), took first place in the amateur category of the
Since its launch in 2014, the Taiwan Season has increasingly become a “must-see” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. So, when this year’s three-week Fringe became an early casualty of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Chen Pin-chuan (陳斌全) was determined that the Taiwan Season must continue in some form. Chen, director of the Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, says that he and Taiwan Season curator and producer Yeh Jih-wen (葉紀紋) had been thinking of ways of growing and adding value to the season anyway. The crisis and the cancellation of the live performances brought those ideas forward as
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
In the regular drumbeat of arrests of alleged Chinese spies, one case last month stood out. It did not involve the US or another rival of China, but Russia, whose security services accused a prominent arctic scientist of selling classified data on technologies for detecting submarines. Meanwhile a court in Kazakhstan in October convicted the Central Asia nation’s preeminent China specialist of espionage, a move widely interpreted at the time as a warning against increased meddling by the superpower next door. Both men maintain their innocence and if China is spying on Russia, Moscow is surely doing the same. Even so, the fact