“Formal education is such a high-pressure environment in Taiwan,” Hsieh said.
“Everything is about scores, and at dance school, the focus is in getting a good place at university … Many of the schools use really harsh methods to make sure their students progress, so much so that many students drop out of dance soon after they graduate. They have simply lost all their passion for dance.”
According to her mother, 14-year-old Li Ya-hsuan (李亞璇) might have stopped going to Cloud Gate’s dance class, as she considered the prospect of a junior high school workload. But Li, who aspires to be a professional dancer, told her mother that Cloud Gate was a “weekly boost to her passion for dance.”
“Dance encompasses all movement. As professional dancers, the simplest movement is part of dance. People need to understand that dance covers a huge spectrum, it’s not just ballet. Everyone can dance ... Children love to dance, and we want to preserve this passion into later life,” Hsieh said. As a result, technical achievement is much less a priority than spontaneous expression and a connection with one’s own body.
From its beginnings 15 years ago as a single class aimed at infants, Cloud Gate Dance School has completed a cycle of development that has seen vast changes in the community at large. “We now deal with a whole new generation of students and parents,” Hsieh said, “and our approach is constantly changing.”