Thu, Aug 16, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Stylish dancing and costumes highlight ‘Lost Illusion’

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Chiu Chu-en dances the role of War in the Formosa Ballet’s production of Allen Yu’s Lost Illusion. The company will perform on Saturday at the Performance Hall of the Hsinchu County Cultural Affairs Bureau in Jhubei City.

Photo courtesy of Sandy Ouyang

The latest work by Austria-based Taiwanese choreographer Allen Yu (余能盛) for his Formosa Ballet (福爾摩沙芭蕾舞團), Lost Illusion (失落的幻影) showed Yu’s flare for drama as well as some great dancing by his stars and soloists.

The show, which premiered at the Metropolitan Hall on Saturday last week, is about the destructiveness of war, mankind and Mother Nature, with damaged artworks serving as a metaphor for the Earth.

Yu said in an interview last week that Lost Illusion, inspired by a damaged sculpture he saw in a German museum decades ago, was his most “German dance theater” production and he was right.

The storyline might have been a bit of a stretch, but the staging and the dancing were always interesting and Yu manages to convey a lot with just a few props — by designer Wang Yao-chung (王耀崇) — and a strong lighting design by Lin Li-chun (林立群).

It was great to see so many familiar faces among the 26-member cast, including the Romanian leads, Christina Dijmaru and Bogdan Canila from the Bucharest National Opera ballet, whom Yu gives the most demanding footwork and pas de deux.

Dijmaru is a crisp, elegant dancer, with a beautiful line, and she effortlessly tossed off a string of fourettes in the second act. Her husband, Canila, is always a joy to watch, and sets a high bar for his Taiwanese colleagues to follow with fast and tight spins and clean jumps.

Three of the Taiwanese soloists deserve mention.

Chiu Chu-en (邱主恩), a veteran of several Yu production who studied at dance at Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA) as well as the Kirov Academy in Washington, turned in a fine performance as the character of War.

The audience could be forgiven for thinking that Li Hong-cheng (李杭澄) might have been chosen for the role of the Statue just because of his great physique, up until he finally got a chance to demonstrate his dancing skills in the second act, while Hung Chia-lin (洪嘉鈴) was lovely with her solos in both acts.

While the training and skill level of the company’s corps have improved over the years, Yu always creates well-structured ensemble pieces and duets that highlight his dancers’ skills and camouflage their shortcomings.

One of the highlights of the production is the costumes by Keith Lin (林秉豪). His costumes — and there were many — centered on basic white and nude colored unitard with clear strips down the legs and across the torso for both the men and women. Over this he layered simple white toga-like tunics and diadem-style headbands for the opening scene, followed by sleeveless waistcoat for the men and a variety of other options for the women.

The most striking, however, were skirt contraptions made of loops of white material, a very post-modern interpretation of ballet’s classic tutu, with matching headpieces, worn by the women at the beginning of the second act, with a second group in similar black costumes.

Lin’s costumes were deceptively simple, but effective in conveying both the story and emotions of the 12 different scenes.

Lin, another TNUA dance graduate, eventually became more interested in costumes than dancing, but his background has given him rather unique perspective for his design work, and he creates costumes that serve both a choreographer’s needs and work well for dancers.

Kudos also to lighting and stage technology design Lin Li-chun (林立群), stage designer Wang Yao-chung (王耀崇) and the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra (長榮交響樂團), which was conducted by its music director and chief conductor, Gernot Schmalfuss.

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