Fri, Sep 01, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Highlight: Time for a cuddle

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Cuddle, created by Bonnie Lin along with Mauro Sacchi, will be performed this weekend as part of the Taipei Fringe Festival’s dance line-up.

Photo courtesy of RoHsuan Chen Photography

Personal space is a personal, cultural and social issue. How close is too close for strangers, friends, family members and lovers? How do you separate intimacy from sexuality, or do you need to?

These are some of the questions that Bonnie Lin (林宇禾) grappled with when she began working on Cuddle, a dance about the complexities of physical contact, two years ago when she was in the UK.

The show is being performed this weekend at the HAUS Studio as part of the Taipei Fringe Festival.

However, the questions she wanted to deal with arose earlier, when she first met Italian dancer/performance artist Mauro Sacchi in Taipei, she said in a telephone interview alongside Sacchi on Tuesday.

“He’s very tactile because he is Italian. I realized I had a lot of fear, related to touching, to sexuality,” Lin said. “But intimacy does not have to be sexual, you can just be in contact with a body.”

“As an Italian I take it for granted — contact, a hand on a shoulder,” Sacchi said.

Lin said that in Asia and in other cultures around the world, tactile, physical interaction between people is not encouraged; physical distance, the setting of clearly defined boundaries, is usually the default choice when interacting with people or getting to know someone new.

Yet in a time of conflicts around the world, amid growing virtual technological, rather than personal interactions, what if a nice hug could help make us feel nice and understood, they said.

“This performance aims to rediscover the importance of intimacy, of body contact, and tries to explore the issue of intimacy beyond the mere concept of sexuality and sexualized behavior,” Sacchi wrote in an e-mail. “The body is sacred and powerful in communication, connection and therapy. Our bodies are our own shrines. With good intention, we can all bless each other, and share our love.”

Unlike the performances in the UK, the four performers in Cuddle will not be fully nude.

“We’re not trying to be in your face … it is more of an opportunity for people to see a more social construction,” Sacchi said.

“I just figured out last week that this piece is way to approach my family … to get over the awkwardness of contact,” Lin said on Tuesday. “I don’t even feel comfortable hugging my mother.”

Cuddle combines dance theater, live art and audience participation.

The first four sections involve just the four dancers, who will then move out into the audience to engage with their viewers for the final section.

“I am interested in why audience members are here, I want to know about them,” Lin said.

However, they recognize that not everyone might be ready to interact with the performers.

“When we did part of the show for the Taipei Fringe Festival press conference, I came up behind a woman in her 30s and put my hand on her shoulder and she screamed: ‘Get away,’” Sacchi said.

Cuddle runs about an hour.

■ Shows are at 7:30pm tonight, tomorrow and Sunday and at 2:30pm tomorrow and Sunday at HAUS Studio, 776 Bade Rd Sec 4, Taipei City, 2F(台北市八德路四段776號2樓)

■ Admission is NT$500, available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw, at convenience store ticketing kiosks and at the door.

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