Thu, Nov 21, 2019 - Page 13 News List

Up from the ashes and the next generation

Meimage Dance returns to the National Theater, while dance students from around the world offer a free sampler of talents and works on Saturday afternoon at the Wenshan Theater

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Ho Hsiao-mei’s renaissance of its ashes will be performed by her company on Saturday and Sunday at the National Theater in Taipei as the final program of the “Dancing in Autumn” series.

Photo courtesy of Meimage Dance

The National Theater’s “Dancing in Autumn” (舞蹈秋天) series wraps up this weekend with Meimage Dance’s (何曉玫MEIMAGE舞團) renaissance of its ashes (極相林).

It has been several years since the company took to the main stage at the National Theater. The last time was part of the 1+1 series in June 2015 when founder and artistic director Ho Hsiao-mei’s (何曉玫) Camouflage (假裝) shared a double bill with WCdance (林文中舞團) and Lin Wen-chung’s (林文中) Aerodynamics (空氣動力學).

Now for the first time, the company will be appearing on the stage all on its own.

‘RENAISSANCE OF ITS ASHES’

Ho has been working on renaissance of its ashes for two years, first with students at Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA, 國立臺北藝術大學), where she is a dean of the dance department, creating a segment for the School of Dance’s annual summer concert in June last year and then again in October last year as part of the Kuandu Arts Festival (關渡藝術節).

The difference between the June and October versions was stark.

In June, eight dancers, clad in flesh-toned leotards, performed to extracts of Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Symphony No. 3, Op. 36) and Terra Tremuit from The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ’s Templar chants.

The slow measured pace and liquid movements of the dancers as they curved and unfurled their bodies over and around one another on a platform in an exploration of life and creation was sensual and hypnotic.

Although it was just a short segment, it was very different from Ho’s earlier works and very impressive.

The Chinese title of the work, which translates as “extreme forest,” is a reference to biodiversity, in which vegetation, through periods of growth and decline, reach a stable state.

By October, Ho had changed the music to a much more abstract score, and tweeked the choreography and added seven more dancers, with a crystal-clear stage design and lasers.

The change in the score created more of a distance between the performances and the audience, while the dancers, who were required to twist their bodies into ergonomically challenging positions and movements to portray symbiosis and the journey through life, no longer looked so sensual. If anything, some of the positions appeared downright painful.

However, as a work in progress, the piece was terrific.

Now, the full-length renaissance of its ashes, with 11 dancers, is ready for its world premiere on Saturday. It is still about pain, as Ho believes that pain and strength are linked, even though it is natural to try and avoid pain.

Every time the body or the mind suffers a painful experience, they become stronger, Ho says, comparing it to the how the pain felt while exercising actually means the muscles are strengthening, or how broken hearts can eventually lead to a better relationship.

In her longer version, the journey of life has become more ritualistic.

The show runs about 65 minutes, and Ho has added more smoke effects to the staging, so there is an audience advisory about the use of lasers and the smoke. The score is by electronic music composer Lim Giong (林強) and Hsu Chih-yuan (許志遠), while the stage design is by Sammy Wang (王世信), lighting by Deng Chen-wei (鄧振威) and costumes by Yu Cheng-yu (余承倧).

CAMPING ASIA

Meanwhile, some of Ho’s dance students are busy this week, in addition to their school work, taking part in the first Camping Asia, hosted by the Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC, 台北表演藝術中心) at locations around Taipei.

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