Bouncing off walls and staring into the abyss - Taipei Times
Thu, Oct 05, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Bouncing off walls and staring into the abyss

While the Deborah Colker Dance Company will perform its very athletics-inspired “VeRo” on the main stage at the National Theater this weekend, the Scarecrow Contemporary Dance Company will be exploring philosophical depths

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker’s troupe will perform VeRo at the National Theater in Taipei this weekend.

Photo Courtesy of Deborah Colker Dance Company

Dance for the body and the mind are on the program at the National Theater this weekend.

The dancers of Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker’s eponymous troupe will be bouncing off a wall on the main stage, playing with a giant hamster wheel and dancing under giant fanwheels, as the company brings its sports-infused VeRo to Taipei.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the Experimental Theater, the Tainan-based Scarecrow Contemporary Dance Company will be tackling more metaphysical challenges, with artistic director Luo Wen-jinn’s (羅文瑾) latest work, Abyss.


Colker, who founded her company in 1994, has built her reputation on the vigorous athleticism of her choreography, her use of sports metaphors and challenging the conventional notions of spacial relationships, dimensions and gravity.

It is no surprise to learn that in addition to creating works for her own troupe, she choreographed OVO for the Cirque du Soleil or that Brazil turned to her to choreograph the performance for the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics last year.

She is also known for revisiting previous works and combining segments from them to create new productions, as she did with last year’s VeRo, for which she took parts of Velox (1975) and Rota (1997), both of which were major hits.

The latter featured the large spinning wheel, while the former saw the dancers scaling a 7m wall; both used sports and everyday movements, combined with techniques from ballet and contemporary dance, to explore space and movement and defy gravity.

VerRo was brought to Taipei as part of this year’s CTBC Arts Festival (新舞臺藝術節).


While Colker’s choreography often conveys a lighter-than-air feeling, Luo was inspired by some very weighty German tomes for her latest production: Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings from Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil as well as Hermann Hesse’s Demian.

The thread linking the three is self-exploration. Luo cites a Hesse quote about walking “the knife-edge between two abysses … the uncrossable chasm between souls … and the unsoundable depths within” and Nietzsche’s idea of humans as “the rope hanging over the abyss” between animal and superman.

This is not the first time that Luo has chosen such big themes to explore; inspiration for previous works has come from Franz Kafka and Italo Calvino.

She uses dance to convey the evolution of mankind from animal instinct to the desire to become superhuman, with a set made up of scores of large rubber bands to represent Nietzsche’s ropes.

The six dancers, led by Luo herself and senior troupe member Li Peishan (李佩珊), will perform to an original “alternative rock” score by her frequent collaborators, singer Misa Wen (米莎) and Monlieng Lee (孟濂), who will be accompanied by percussionist Chang Yu-wei (張育瑋) and trombonist Wang Chi-kai (王麒愷).

Abyss runs 70-minutes with no intermission.

Elsewhere, the Century Contemporary Dance Company (世紀當代舞團) will be performing The Age Of Silence (破月) at the National Taiwan University of Arts Performance Hall (國立台灣藝術大學演藝廳) in New Taipei City’s Banchiao District (板橋) tomorrow night and Saturday afternoon.

Tickets are priced from NT$800 to NT$1,200, available online through and at convenience store ticket kiosks.

Performance notes

What: VeRo

When: Tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30pm

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