Thu, May 10, 2018 - Page 14 News List

A reason to dance

Chen Wu-kang says his work with Thai dancer Pichet Kluchun over the past two years has given him a new sense of purpose

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

“We thought this might be interesting. We didn’t know if it would work out, but that’s how we ended up in Japan now with our team,” Chen said.

The two men have changed the way they usually work for Behalf.

“We decided to have a dramaturge, for the first time ever [Tang Fu-kuen (鄧富權)] and he suggested a legendary Japanese lighting designer [Takayuki Fujimoto, also known as Kinsei]. The team helps us concentrate, gives lots of feedback; it’s been very productive.”

Tang was the one who came up with the English title for the program.

“It is two men, working on behalf of themselves and others, for me, Taiwanese culture, for him, Thai. The project was originally called Body Tradition, but nobody really liked it. It took a while to come with Behalf,” he said.

“I didn’t think I had a tradition until I started working with him,” Chen said of Pichet.

“In Thailand he is very radical ... taking off the [khon] mask, performing nude, building his own theater. I call him their “Mr Lin [Hwai-min (林懷民)],” Chen said. “Traditional Thai dance was for kings and gods, but once that connection was lost, people don’t see the need or relevance of traditional Thai dance ... he is trying to evolve dance there ... chop it up, study it and change it.”

While the Pichet Klunchun Dance Company — like Lin’s Cloud Gate Dance Company (雲門) — was the first professional dance troupe in its nation to give its dancers full-time jobs, Pichet has not been embraced by Thais the way Lin and his company have been by Taiwanese.

Behalf is still evolving, Chen said.

“The show is definitely more than an hour, less than 90 minutes, and there will be different musicians, one on Friday and Sunday and a different one on Saturday.”

“Originally we wanted to do three different musicians, a different one for each day, but we were not bold enough, it was too scary,” he said.

Chen said working with Pichet has helped him find a new reason to dance, to choreograph, to organize.

“How to make the whole island dance, that’s my mission now. Personally, I am making myself better — soaking in taichi, but not like Cloud Gate does, putting myself into tango to understand tango partnering — I want to understand different types of dance movement,” he said.

“Dance is contagious. It is not just about for style, it’s for everyone,” he said.

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