The TAO Dance Theater (陶身體劇場) is a small company, but it certainly packs a big punch, having developed a major reputation both in China and internationally in just a few years.
The Beijing-based troupe, founded in March 2008 by dancers Tao Ye (陶冶) and Wang Hao (王好), is making its long-delayed Taipei premiere this weekend at Novel Hall as part of the Novel Hall Dance Series.
The company was supposed to have performed at Novel 15 months ago, but an injury to one of its dancers forced the troupe to pull out of the 2012 series. However, the upside to the delay is that Tao has brought his latest work, 6, which was commissioned for the opening of the 2014 European Capital of Culture in Umea, Sweden.
Tonight’s program features 2 and 4, while tomorrow night’s performances include 5 and 6. The titles refer to the number of dancers in each work.
Tao has been quoted in interviews as saying that titles are limiting because they create preconceptions that limit both creative direction and the audience’s imagination. However, using a symbol or a number helps combine the abstract with the concrete, he said. Plus, since numbers can extend to infinity, it means his works can be read as a chronology of his life.
His work is very modern and abstract, but it defies genres. While Tao received a solid grounding in traditional Chinese dance as well as ballet at the Chongqing Dance School, training he put to good use as a performer in the Shanghai Army Song & Dance Ensemble and then the contemporary Jin Xing Dance Theater in Shanghai, and the Beijing Modern Dance Company.
In 2, two dancers appear to be battling a magnetic force that is pulling them toward the ground; it is also a struggle between motion and non-motion. The piece is set to a soundscape by frequent collaborator, the indie composer Xiao He (小河), as are the other works on the program, who incorporates the piano, guitar, voice and environmental sounds into his compositions.
What: TAO Dance Theater
When: Tonight and tomorrow at 7:30pm
Where: Novel Hall (新舞臺), 3 Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路3號)
Admission: Only a few NT$2,000 tickets are left for both shows; available at NTCH or Novel Hall box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw and at 7-Eleven ibon kiosks
In 4, a magnetic wave appears to be driving the movements of the four dancers, who flow like water, coming together and then parting, but never touching.
In 5, the focus is on touching. The five dancers do not move as one, but as a constantly morphing mass, rolling around on the floor.
For 6, Tao combined Xiao He’s music with the traditional singing of the Sami people of Scandinavia.