This week and next are packed with dance performances all over the city as part of the 15th Taipei Arts Festival and Fringe Festival. Even the most dedicated of dance lovers would find it difficult to see all of them, even if some were not already sold out.
The performers range from Taipei’s second professional modern troupe (after Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, 雲門舞集), Dance Forum Taipei (舞蹈空間), to three university seniors. The venues are equally varied.
Dance Forum Taipei is performing at the Taipei City Shuiyuan Theater on Roosevelt Road in the Gongguan area — also known as the Wellspring Theater — a fairly large space even if it is on the 10th floor of an otherwise unprepossessing building.
Spanish choreographer Marina Mascarell first worked with the troupe three years ago, after she was recommended to Dance Forum Taipei founder and director Ping Heng (平珩) by a Dutch promoter. The result was Like an Olive Tree, which was one of the best dance pieces seen in Taipei in 2010. That experience was obviously rewarding enough for both sides that the company was eager to team up with Mascarell again.
The 33-year-old Mascarell danced with the Nederlands Dans Theater I and II, as well as the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, before going out on her own as a freelance choreographer two years ago, often working under the auspices of the Korzo Theater in the Hague, which is one of the largest production houses for dance in the Netherlands.
Her new piece is the intriguingly titled The Unreality of Times (時境), on which she collaborated with New York composer and cellist Chris Lancaster, who will be playing onstage with the troupe. The piece is a coproduction with the Korzo.
Time is something we all think a lot about — mostly that we do not seem to have enough of it. When we are young, time seems to drag out forever — witness the agonizingly slow progress of hands of a clock toward the magic hour that ends a school day. When we are older, the years seem to speed past us. Mascarell was intrigued about how people perceive time, and how we manipulate it.
With Lancaster’s help, she has created a parallel world, where time can be accelerated, slowed or stretched out almost to the breaking point, helped along by his use of samplers and sound effects as well as his electro-cello. The piece is dynamic and very intense.
Lancaster is no stranger to the world of dance. He has worked as music director and composer for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in New York as well as the Stacato Contemporary Dance Company in Rio di Janeiro, Brazil.
The Unreality of Times runs 60 minutes, with no intermission. The only tickets left are for the Sunday matinee.
The dance pieces offered by the Taipei Fringe Festival this week are a mixed bag both in terms of size and scope, and perhaps aspirations.
The Mending Dance Theater (曼丁身體劇場) has taken over the Guling St Avant-Garde Theater for their production, Melting (灶‧心). Choreographed by Zhu Wei-ting (朱蔚庭) — who created Fixed 2 for the Fringe Festival two years ago, Melting, performed by four dancers, examines time, as well as the impact of technology on modern society.
The Treasure Hill Artist Village is the location for Shivanii Chang’s (張心柔) solo show, Ophelia (奧菲莉亞). Friday night’s show is already sold out.
Inspired by the tragic character of William Shakespeare’s Ophelia, this piece is Chang’s maiden choreographic work. She studied ballet, modern dance and flamenco, but has concentrated in recent years on her music and poetry. Now a student at Taiwan Normal University’s music department, Chang won the Rising Star Award at the 2011 Fringe Festival for her music performance, and released her first album, of folk songs, last year.