Fri, Dec 20, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Take five

Students present five dances by Anna Sokolow, Tibetan-Chinese Sang Jijia and three up-and-coming Taiwanese choreographers

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

At the Taipei National University of the Arts dance department’s year-end show, students will perform five works that demonstrate a diversity of styles and techniques.

Photos courtesy of Liu Cheng-hsiang

The Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA, 國立臺北藝術大學) dance department is hosting its annual end-of-the-year show (2013 舞蹈學院歲末展演—跳房間) with a program that provides a challenge for its students and gives audiences a sampling of a wide variety of techniques and a look at the work of some up-and-coming Taiwanese choreographers.

One of the highlights of the show is sure to be Sticks (火柴人) by Tibetan-Chinese Sang Jijia (桑吉加), one of the most exciting contemporary Asian choreographers around. His The Duet, which Sheu Fang-yi (許芳宜) performed in Taipei as part of LAFA’s (拉芳) 37 Arts production in 2008, was memorable for being both simple and compelling.

Sang began his career with the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, but spent four years studying and then working with Germany-based US choreographer William Forsythe. He is now a resident artist with BeijingDance / LDTX and the Guangdong troupe, as well as an in-demand freelance choreographer.

TNUA associate professor Ping Heng (平珩), who has served as artistic director for the show, said she has really been looking forward to Sang’s piece.

Three other works on the program are by Taiwanese choreographers: TNUA associate professor Kong Ho-ping (孔和平), Dong Yi-fen (董怡芬) and Su Wei-chia (蘇威嘉). The pieces by Dong and Su were both created for the ArtCross project the school’s dance department took part in this summer in London, but have been expanded for this program.

Dong, a graduate of Queensland University of Technology, entitled her piece Sound of Number (董怡芬).

Su, best known for his work as a member of Horse (驫舞劇場), created a piece he called Free Steps (蘇威嘉).

Kong, who teaches Chinese dance and Chinese opera movement, has contributed a piece titled Moon Dance (跳月).

Performance Notes

WHAT: TNUA Dance Department’s Year-end Show

WHEN: Tonight and tomorrow at 7:30pm, tomorrow and Sunday at 2:30pm

WHERE: Taipei National University of the Arts — Dance Theater (國立臺北藝術大學舞蹈廳), 1 Xueyuan Rd, Taipei (台北市學園路1號)

ADMISSION: NT$350; available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw or 7-Eleven ibon kiosks.


INTERPRETING SOKOLOW

In keeping with the department’s tradition of exposing both its students and audiences to some of the classics of 20th-century modern dance by reconstructing the works of great choreographers, such as Kurt Jooss’ classic from 1932, Green Table, this weekend’s program includes a major excerpt from Anna Sokolow’s Rooms.

Sokolow began her career as a dancer with the Martha Graham Company and went on to found companies in the US and other countries, co-found the Actors Studio in New York and teach at the Julliard School for three decades. She also choreographed for ballet, Broadway musical, operas and theater.

While her style has been described as “American expressionism,” her work reflected a lifelong commitment to social and political issues, with pieces that drew upon the problems created by the Great Depression, trade unions’ battles for better working conditions, the Spanish Civil War, World War II as well as her Jewish heritage. She was a major proponent of art as an instrument of social change.

The inspiration for Rooms, which premiered in 1955, came from Sokolow’s work with the Actors Studio. Focusing on the growing isolation in modern urban life, the piece features dancers, who while close to one another, remain caught in their own space, isolated from the others. It is set to a jazz score by Kenyon Hopkins.

The full nine-segment work runs for 55 minutes, but Ping said the school has chosen to put on a 30-minute version with seven segments, which includes solos as well as ensemble dancing.

The quickest way to get to the university, which is in Guandu (關渡), is to take the MRT to Guandu Station and either catch the shuttle bus that runs to the school or take a taxi; otherwise it is a somewhat steep walk up the mountainside. Walking back to the station is much easier and takes about 15 minutes.

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