Taiwan’s premier dance company goes outdoors

Expect a massive crowd tomorrow for Cloud Gate’s annual free summer performance at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall plaza

By Diane Baker  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jul 10, 2009 - Page 13

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There may be a hint of thunderstorms in the weather forecast for this weekend, but that is unlikely to deter Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) fans from taking advantage of the annual free performance by the company as part of the Cathay Life Arts Festival at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall plaza tomorrow night.

This year the company will be presenting a mixed bill of four excerpts from longer works, mostly solos, and two short pieces by founder and artistic director Lin Hwai-min (林懷民). The show begins at 7:30pm but experienced hands know to bring a cushion, drinks and perhaps a picnic dinner, and get there early to ensure a good space on the tiles.

The evening begins with Adagietto, created in 1984 and set to Movement 4 of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

This will be followed by a solo for one of the company’s prima dancers, Chou Chang-ning (周章佞), from Cursive (2001) and a pas de quatre from Wild Cursive (2005), which will also serve as a reminder to dance lovers that the company will be staging a Cursive festival in the National Theater in September, performing all three works in the triology inspired by Chinese calligraphy between Sept. 2 and Sept. 20. It will be the first time that all three — the middle one is Cursive II — will be performed together.

Next on tomorrow’s program will be a solo by Huang Pei-hua (黃�? from Moon Water (1998), which is one of the troupe’s signature pieces. Then Dung Shu-fen (董淑芬) will dance the exquisite Requiem, which Lin created for the late Cloud Gate 2 director Lo Man-fei (羅曼菲) in 1989.

Requiem was conceived in response to the Tiananmen Square Massacre and is a study in anguish as the dancer literally spins for the entire 10-minute work, only once showing her face to the audience. Cloud Gate is dedicating this weekend’s performance of Requiem as a memorial to 10th anniversary of the 921 Earthquake.

After an intermission, the company returns to perform the first half of Lin’s newest masterpiece, Whisper of Flowers, which premiered last September. Set to Yo-yo Ma’s (馬友友) recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello, the work is a celebration of youth and of spring, danced amid thousands and thousands of pink petals. It should send audience members home with a spring in their step.

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