It is safe to say that How Can I Live On Without You (如果沒有你) is Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) as you have never seen
It is an amazingly energetic piece, full of vibrant highs and gut-wrenching melancholy, deft comedic touches and beautiful flowing dresses for the women — thanks to designer Keith Lin (林秉豪) — that will hopefully start a new fashion trend in Taipei.
There are dazzling mirrors, flirty girls and swaggering men, and — dare we say the B-word when talking about a Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) creation — a downright balletic pas de deux. There is even a karaoke sing-a-long that had just about everyone in the audience joining in at the National Theater on Saturday last week.
The show opens with the house lights still on and the curtain half raised to reveal a mirrored wall that soon opens to show a leg, then a bit of purple skirt, a little more leg and then all of dancer Kuo Tzu-wei (郭子葳), who slunk and strutted around the stage to Bai Guang’s (白光) How Can I Live On Without You, a huge smile on her face and teasing looks out into the theater. Her solo perfectly encapsulated the lyrics: “My heart is already broken. All I can do is to go out and make trouble” (反正腸巳斷我就只能去闖禍).
Kuo is then joined by the entire company for a rousing knees-high stepping romp to Wu Bai’s (伍佰) Crush on You (煞到你) that had me thinking of the dance scenes in the 1960s Beach Blanket Bingo movies. The roller-coaster whirl through 16 more songs rarely lets up from there.
Especially fine are Lee Tzu-chun’s (李姿君) funny, bandaged-finger-held-high solo to Will This Be the Last Time (是否), the wonderfully high leaps of Tsai Ming-yuan (蔡銘元) in I Don’t Want to Be Just a Friend of Yours (不只是朋友), and Wong Lap-cheong’s (王立翔) twitches and shakes to Jay Chou’s (周杰倫) Secret (不能說的秘密) that embodied the rock love anthems so beloved by teenage males.
Leading lady Chou Chang-ning (周章佞) made an all-too-brief solo appearance near the very end in Tiger Huang’s (黃小琥) My Heart Holds Only You, Not Him (我的心裡只有你沒有他), but she was a vision of loveliness in a bright red, full-skirted dress. The emphasis of the show is on the younger crop of dancers, and they certainly deserved it.
While the first act was great fun, the show dragged a bit in the middle of the second act, although I would hate to be the one to pick which segment should be cut. The only other complaint is for the poor folks sitting in the second floor boxes on the left of the theater — during the Complex (狂戀) segment the moveable mirrors were positioned such that a beam of light was reflected straight into the boxes, forcing people to cover their eyes with their programs.
Still, Lin’s paean to Taiwanese love songs and his dancers had the audience clapping after almost every segment and shouting for Lin at the end of the show.
There are still a few seats left for tonight’s performance at the National Theater, but tomorrow and Sunday’s shows are already sold out. Tickets are going fast for the shows in Greater Taichung (Dec. 23 and Dec. 24), Greater Kaohsiung (Dec. 29 and Dec. 30) and Taitung (Jan. 6 and Jan. 7). The last will be a special treat for east coast residents, as it will be the first time the company has appeared in Taitung in about 15 years.