Thu, Dec 27, 2018 - Page 13 News List

A year of tears and cheers

Despite an incredibly hectic calendar of programs, several shows stood out due to their power to evoke strong emotions and the quality of the dancers

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Cloud Gate Dance Theater’s 45th Anniversary Gala Program, which opened its national tour at the National Theater in Taipei last month, was one of the dance highlights of the year.

Photo Courtesy of Liu Chen-hsiang

The opening of new performing arts venues in the past few years – the National Taichung Theater (NTT), the Cloud Gate Theater, the Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center and, in October, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying) – has made life richer, more complicated and much, much more expensive for dance and theater fans in Taipei, and elsewhere, as the number of programs on offer each weekend has soared.

It has become a logistical, if not physical, impossibility to see everything, so coming up with a year ender “best of” list can truly only scratch the surface of the shows on offer.

However, of the programs I was able to see, there were several standouts: shows that made one giddy with delight, happy to be alive, moved to tears, and sometimes all three at once.

In the dance world, these included productions by acclaimed masters, young choreographers and those in mid-career, as well as artists at the pinnacle of their talent.

LOCAL PRODUCTION

Topping the list was Huang Yi Studio’s (黃翊工作室) Under The Horizon (地平面以下) at the Metropolitan Hall as part of the Taipei Arts Festival in October.

Huang Yi (黃翊), now in his mid-30s, is one of a stellar group of first graduates of the Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA, 國立臺北藝術大學) seven-year high school-college program, and he has continued to live up to the promise that led Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門) founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) years ago to label him an enfant terrible.

His embrace of computer programming and technology has led to several emotionally touching works, including his choreography for the industrial KUKA robot, but Under The Horizon, a collaboration with Berlin-based Japanese artist Ryoichi Kurokawa and the Nederlands Kamerkoor (Netherlands Chamber Choir), was a finely crafted, richly layered show inspired by the global plight of refugees that reminded audiences that the desire for love and home are universal, as are longing and loss.

NTUA faculty member and choreographer Ho Hsiao-mei’s (何曉玫) New Paradise of Silent Island at the Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center in May perfectly captured the social and cultural changes in Taiwan over the past few decades, while challenging its audiences to cross the barrier between observation and participation.

From the noise and color of temple processions and night markets to the narcissistic and voyeuristic social media-addicted lifestyle of modern society, Ho explored social interactions and the bonds of culture.

Bulareyaung Pagarlava, another NTUA graduate mentored early on by Lin, has moved on from his purely contemporary dance works as he seeks to fuse his training with the heritage and culture of his Paiwan community and those of Taiwan’s other Aborigines for his Taitung-based Bulareyaung Dance Company (布拉瑞揚舞團).

This year’s production, LUNA (路吶), inspired by the Bunun’s polyphonic songs, got off to an uneven start with its premiere at the NTT in May, but by the time it was at the Cloud Gate Theater the following month, it lived up to its potential.

INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS

Among the foreign productions this year, there were two stood out, but from opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.

Betroffenheit, created by two Canadians, choreographer Crystal Pite of Kidd Pivot and playwright/actor Jonathon Young of the Electric Company Theatre, launched the 10th Taiwan International Festival of Arts (TIFA) at the National Theater.

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