The National Taichung Theater’s (NTT) “ Fall for Great Soul” series has gotten off to a very strong start with two terrific shows — Dance Forum Taipei’s (DFT, 舞蹈空間) Dance Force, and the final installment of Fura del Baus’ The Ring of the Nibelung cycle, Gotterdammerung.
DFT is marking its 30th anniversary this year, and founder Ping Heng (平珩) invited frequent collaborator, Japanese choreographer Toru Shimazaki, to be part of the celebrations.
Shimazaki and Ping put together a mixed bill program for the two NTT shows on Sept. 28 and 29 — which were followed a few days later by two more performances in Taipei — featuring three of his works, performed by his own group, Team Shimazaki Star Dance as well as the Taipei troupe’s members.
Photo courtesy of Eva Ripoll / Fura del Baus
The first piece, 2014’s Zero Body (零極限) was performed by DFT in 2016 to great success and it was wonderful to be able to see it again, although this time performed by Japanese dancers, who crisply executed Shimazaki’s rippling pattern of movements.
South (南之頌), from 2015, was inspired by the music and cultures of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples and set to music by Sanpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw, the Taiwu Ancient Ballads Troupe and others, and Shimazaki incorporated some traditional dance elements into the work. Performed by 11 DFT dancers and one Japanese, it was an introspective work featuring duets, solos and group movement that soared along with the music.
In the blink of an eye (瞬舞力), which premiered in 2016, was the final work on the program and it was easy to see why.
Photo courtesy of Dance Forum Taipei / National Taichung Theater
Set to music by Radiohead, Tom Waits and Murcof, it is a pounding piledriver of a piece, relentlessly pushing the 12 DFT dancers along lines and around circles on the floor.
It was as exhilarating to watch as it must have been exhausting to perform.
Equally exhilarating was NTT premiere of Gotterdammerung on Friday last week.
Somewhere in the afterlife my father, a huge opera lover, must be laughing at the idea that I would not only sit through a five hour-plus production of a Wagner opera, but enjoy it.
The Catalonia-based Fura del Baus is famed for its massive spectaculars, and its Ring productions, which premiered in Spain between 2007 and 2009, have been no exception.
Franc Aleu’s video projections of roaring flames, flowing water, spilling blood, mountains, glaciers and the Earth isolated in space were enhanced in Taichung by the NTT’s use of a loaned Japanese projector, so new that it is not even on the market yet, which provided brilliant color and crispness to the imagery.
Canadian tenor Lance Ryan, who was the original Siegfried in the Spanish productions, reprised his role and his acting ability allowed him to be convincing no matter what costume he was wearing, which was equally true of British soprano Rachel Nicholls as Brunnhilde and Estonian Lauri Vasar as Gunther.
The costuming was as bizarre as the sets, ranging from a Bronze Age hunter to 20th century suits to Steampunk bridal gowns.
As I had not seen the earlier Ring productions, it took me some time getting used to seeing the three Rhinemaidens, garbed in bathing suits, clear plastic boots and breastplates, each suspended their own hanging aquarium, among other usual features.
While the visual imagery and staging sometimes threatens to steal the limelight from the cast, they are surely what attracted a large contingent of young people raised on video games and Hollywood blockbusters to Friday’s show, not a bad thing in terms of helping build audience for Western opera — in Taiwan or elsewhere.
The company will give the final performance of Gotterdammerung tomorrow.
Green, spiky and with a strong, sweet smell, the bulky jackfruit has morphed from a backyard nuisance in India’s south coast into the meat-substitute darling of vegans and vegetarians in the West. Part of the South Asia’s diet for centuries, jackfruit was so abundant that tonnes of it went to waste every year. But now India, the world’s biggest producer of jackfruit, is capitalizing on its growing popularity as a “superfood” meat alternative — touted by chefs from San Francisco to London and Delhi for its pork-like texture when unripe. “There are a lot of inquiries from abroad... At the international level, the
In troubled times, people have been known to hoard currency at home — a financial security blanket against deep uncertainty. But in this crisis, things are different. This time cash itself, passed from hand to hand across neighborhoods, cities and societies just like the coronavirus, is a source of suspicion rather than reassurance. No longer a thing to be shoved mindlessly into a pocket, tucked into a worn wallet or thrown casually on a kitchen counter, money’s status has changed during the virus era — perhaps irrevocably. The pandemic has also reawakened debate about the continued viability of what has been
The Lunar New Year vacation had just ended when Alice Wu began to worry about COVID-19. Not long after, on Feb. 10, Wu — who didn’t give her Chinese name to speak freely for this story — received the first of several coronavirus-related sales messages through her smartphone. The pitch came from an acquaintance who represents Amway, an American multi-level marketing (MLM) company that’s been active in Taiwan since 1982. “I’ve only met her once, and I’ve never bought from her. If her sister wasn’t one of my daughter’s teachers, I’d probably block her,” says Wu, who lives in Taichung. MLM, sometimes
While engineering professor Liu Jen-sen (劉振森) manually took the temperature of hundreds of students entering the building, he was sure there was a more efficient way to complete the annoying task. With hundreds of students entering National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Electrical Engineering Building every period, the exercise put faculty in close proximity with visitors when social distancing was crucial to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Liu immediately had a eureka moment, headed to his basement workshop and cobbled together a prototype for Prevention No 1 (防疫一號), an automated temperature measuring station. With infrared thermal camera systems costing up to NT$500,000,