Sheenru Yong (楊欣如) is a contemporary dance choreographer who is keen on community projects and bringing people from different walks of life together.
As a masters degree student at Taipei National University of the Arts, the 32-year-old US native gathered non-dancers and dancers to interact with each other as part of a “social experiment” to see if they could communicate “beyond language.” In other words, she wanted to create a community through dance.
Now Yong is casting her net wider by organizing a group of photographers, talented cooks, teachers and musicians for The Re-Source Project (緣動動源), a fund-raising benefit for a nonprofit arts school devoted to teaching children with disabilities.
The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday at the Integrated Arts Education Association of Taipei (台北市藝術統合教育研究會) in Taipei’s Beitou District.
The participating artists and teachers will perform and share their talents with audience members. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the association.
The school and organization were founded last year by dance therapist Lin Si-duan (林絲緞), who has long specialized in teaching young children with special needs and disabilities such as autism.
Yong points to the 72-year-old Lin, who she considers to be a mentor, as the main inspiration for the event. The two first met as neighbors while living in the same apartment building.
After taking Lin up on an invitation to visit the school, located on a small farm near Beitou MRT Station (北投捷運站), Yong says she was “touched by what they were trying to do.” When she learned that the school was experiencing some financial difficulties, Yong immediately thought of choreographing her own show to raise funds.
But that plan grew larger in scope as Yong learned more about the Integrated Arts Education Association of Taipei. She says she realized she needed “to do something that reflects the work they do, because they do integrated art. [The students] don’t just have dance, they have music and horticulture and visual arts, and they play outside.”
Yong reached out to her friends and acquaintances, both on Facebook and in the real world, and amassed a network of volunteers for this weekend’s event.
With the theme of The Art of Integration, the event’s activities are intended to give attendees an idea of what students experience at the school.
The festivities start with a presentation on herbal teas, led by Tsai You-ting (蔡祐庭) and Allan Hsu (許峰彰), as well as an installation exhibit by photographer and artist Wu Chi-tsung (吳季璁) titled Crystal City.
Another photographer, Chen Ro-hsuan (陳若軒), will be displaying her work alongside photos taken by students.
Atayal Aboriginal singer Inka Mbing (雲力思) and Chinese folk music artist Tina Ma (馬麗英) are among the musical performers.
As for Yong, she has also choreographed a piece titled Body and Breath, which she will perform with five dancers in one of the school’s classrooms.
Prashantha Lachanna and Jharna Chang (張瑜芳) will lead guests in preparing a simple meal made from foods sourced from local farmers and a community vegetable garden.
The project also tries to emulate the school by pooling resources — Yong says Lin’s approach to running the school is generally “not complicated by material needs.” All of the participating artists and teachers are donating their time as well as supplies. They have tried to avoid spending money by relying on what is already available, whether food donated from a community garden or photography supplies.