The National Theater Concert Hall’s The World Series View: Belgium series wraps up this weekend with a solo performance by Belgian dancer/choreographer Lisbeth Gruwez, It’s Going to Get Worse and Worse and Worse, My Friend (壞到底).
Gruwez and composer Maarten Van Cauwenberghe founded their own company, Voetvok in 2007, and for the last few years they have been artists-in-residence at Jan Fabre’s Troubleyn /Laboratorium.
She was a classically trained dancer who moved into contemporary dance before joining Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s PARTS and working with Wim Vandekeybus’ Ultima Vez for a year. She first won attention for her performances in several pieces by Fabre and has acted in film as well.
Inspiration for modern dance choreographers can come from anywhere, as can the scores or soundscapes they use, with some mixing text in with the dance or using it in the score. Gruwez has gone a step further, setting her piece to fragments of speeches by the very conservative US televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who became very popular in the 1980s before sex scandals ended his TV career.
The cadences of southern Pentecostal evangelists can be mesmerizing to their audiences as much as the message they are preaching, sometimes almost hypnotic. The tone can range from friendly to loving to thundering damnation, shifting and playing with emotions like a musical melody. In her 50-minute performance, Gruwez tests the power of speech, sometimes appearing to be manipulated by the words, at other times she looks to be the manipulator with movements that range from the gentle to the violent.
Looking ahead to next weekend, there are several dance shows coming up, but tickets for one of them, Dance Round Table/New Asian Inspiration (圓桌舞蹈計畫／亞裔新思維) have been going fast.
The production at Huashan 1914 Creative Park is being put on by T.T.C. Dance, a company founded by dancer/choreographer/dance professor Chang Ting-ting (張婷婷). Chang has put together three programs with works by eight Taiwanese or Chinese choreographers, among whom are both teachers and students or graduated of Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA) and National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA) as well as Japanese Butoh master Katsura Kan (桂勘).
The preponderance of NTUA people is no accident. Chang is a full-time faculty member there.
Round Table Dance Project I, which will be performed on Dec. 13 at 7:30pm and Dec. 14 at 2:30pm, features works by Kyoto-based Kan, Chinese choreographer Tan Yuanbo (譚遠波) from the Guangdong Modern Dance Company and Wu Yi-san (吳易珊), who began her career with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) and is now an assistant professor at NTUA.
Round Table Dance Project II will be performed at 5pm on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15. It features works by TNUA graduate student Wally Hsu (許程崴) and NTUA student Chen Yi-en (陳逸恩) and alumni Huang Huai-te (黃懷德), who has choreographed with Horse (驫舞劇場) and Kaohsiung City Ballet (高雄城市芭蕾舞團).
Project III will be performed on Dec. 14 at 7:45pm and Dec. 15 at 2:30pm. It features works by pioneering Chinese modern dance choreographer Hou Ying (侯瑩), whose company, Hou Ying Dance Theater is based in Beijing; Eagle Ho (何其沃), who trained at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and is now a collegue of Tan’s at the Guangdong troupe; and UCLA assistant professor Yu Cheng-chieh (余承婕), who combines modern dance techniques with the martial art style known as Baguazhang (八卦掌).