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Dancers delve into the Buddhist concept of nothingness in an ‘unchoreographed’ production by Hong Kong’s Mathias Woo and Dance Forum Taipei

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Dance Forum Taipei’s dancers rehearse the company’s joint production with Zuni Icosahedron, Dream Illusion Bubble Shadow, which is being performed this weekend at the National Theater in Taipei.

Photo courtesy of Dance Forum Taipei

Dance Forum Taipei (舞蹈空間) is making one of its rare forays to the National Theater this weekend to perform a work created by Hong Kong’s Zuni Icosahedron (進念‧二十面體) troupe, Dream Illusion Bubble Shadow (如夢幻泡影).

The production, part of the Taiwan International Festival of Art, features Zuni joint artistic director Mathias Woo’s (胡恩威) first-ever multimedia “no-choreography.”

Dance Forum founder and director Ping Heng (平珩) said she decided to ask Zuni, whom she has known for about 20 years, to collaborate on a show for the festival because they have very good theater ideas and she was looking for something special to mark her troupe’s 25th anniversary.

“Their work is very, very beautiful, but it is not done on a big budget. In Taiwan it is easy to get [an] idea, but the technical side is always rushed because there is not enough support. I wanted to see how Zuni works,” she said in an interview on Tuesday.

“Zuni has never worked with a whole company before. They think our dancers are very open,” she said.

Dream Illusion Bubble Shadow was inspired by Buddhism’s Diamond Sutra.

“The Diamond Sutra talks about nothingness, about finding one’s own philosophy, about searching, always looking for life goals. Once you find your goal, it changes to a new goal,” Ping said.

The show’s title in Chinese has five characters, so Woo divided it into five sections, each 16 minutes long. Timing was a key element, since the sutra relates to time, Ping said.

“Mathias works very architecturally ... the first section has 16 elements, each one a minute. For the second section, there are eight two-minute dances. The third section is for a trio, with four four-minute dances. The fourth section is for six dancers, two dances that are each eight minutes. The fifth section is for the whole group and runs 16 minutes,” she said.

Performance Notes

What: Dream Illusion Bubble Shadow

When: Tonight at 7:30pm, tomorrow at 2:30pm

Where: National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)

Admission: NT$700 TO NT$1,600; available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw and at 7-Eleven ibon kiosks and other convenience chain store ticketing kiosks


Zuni co-founder Edward Lam (林奕華), a theater director and choreographer, also came to Taipei to work on the show as well as independent choreographer Dick Wong (黃大徽) and composer Yu Yat-yiu (于逸堯).

However, no one knows how each show will start; it is completely up to the musical director.

“The first part is all solos, but the dancers don’t know the order until the music director starts the music,” Ping said.

Although the show’s starting time is listed as 7:30pm, Ping says it actually starts a half hour earlier, when the theater doors are opened.

“You will see a 6m tall duck [onstage]. At 7pm the duck starts to deflate, getting smaller and smaller — Mathias thinks people are always following trends even though at the end there is nothing,” she said.

There is also warning that the show features glare, noise and smoke effects.

There will be a question and answer session after tomorrow’s matinee in the theater lobby.

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