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

A harrowing tale of loss, despair and addiction based on Young’s struggles after the death of his daughter and two of her cousins in a fire turned out to be a powerful affirmation of love and the will to survive, performed by Young and a terrific troupe of five dancers.

Jerome Bel’s Gala at the Zhongshan Hall in August as part of the Taipei Arts Festival, was a celebration of diversity, individualism and inclusivity, but most of all it was just pure fun. Performed by a cast of local amateurs and trained dancers, the show had the audience clapping, cheering and crying, often at the same time.

Another example of the sheer delight that dance performances can be was the Hong Kong Ballet’s (香港芭蕾舞團) Taiwan debut at the end of last month with ALICE (in wonderland) at the at the Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center. It was a joy from start to finish.

The prowess and finesse of highly trained professionals is always on display at the annual Ballet Star Galas produced by Wang Tzer-shing (王澤馨), but this year one dancer really made the June evening at the National Theater memorable.

Royal Ballet principal Marianela Nunez, partnered by Vadim Muntagirov, was absolutely breathtaking in an Act II pas de deux from Giselle, holding her arabesques on pointe for what seemed an impossibly long time without a tremor. So ethereal that her Giselle really was more of a spirit than human, Nunez’s performance was a reminder of just how the powerful the pull of the classic ballet canon can be.

The virtuosity of veteran artists was also on display at the Cloud Gate’s 45th Anniversary Gala Program, which opened its national tour at the National Theater last month, from Chou Chang-ning’s (周章佞) opening solo, to Huang Pei-hua’s (黃珮華) exquisite solo from Moon Water (水月), to the Pollen duet from 2013’s Rice (稻禾) by Tsai Ming-yuan (蔡銘元) and Huang.

The show was also a reminder, although none is really needed, of the depth and range of Lin’s artistic talent and vision, and the audience’s cheers and tears kept calling the full cast back for multiple curtain calls.

With all the dancing going on, it was hard to find time to see non-dance shows, but two that stood out were the Contemporary Legend Theatre’s (當代傳奇劇場) revival of The Water Margin: The Hall of Righteousness (水滸108 II: 忠義堂) at the National Theater in April, the second installment of its “108 Heros” trilogy, and Riverbed Theatre’s (河床劇團) The First Time I Walked on the Moon (當我踏上月球) at the National Experimental Theater in March as part of TIFA.

Contemporary Legend Theatre’s show, a hybrid of jingju (Beijing opera, 京劇) and a rock musical, featured an 18-strong cast that included some of the best young Chinese opera performers in Taiwan and veterans performers, and was simply a blast.

Riverbed’s production was yet another in a long line of visual delights by a company that celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

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