The seven-year old E-Dance Theater (伊舞集) takes to the Experimental Theater this weekend for three performances with a production inspired by the massive Chinese literary classic, Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢).
In Dreams in Mirror (大觀夢), cofounder and choreographer Fan Xiang-jun (樊香君) examines life and dreams, reality and void through relationships between people as they confront truth and untruths during their lifetimes.
This is not the first time that Fan has mined Dream of the Red Chamber for inspiration. Her production last year, Red Chamber and Flower Whisper, described the various women depicted in the novel while also reflecting on nature and life. This year’s show develops and extends the themes of last year’s production.
The dream begins from a promise in spiritual world, which is waiting to be accomplished through worldly time between two souls, Fan says in her program notes. Those souls are the hero of the novel, Jia Baoyu (賈寶玉), and his cousin Lin Daiyu (林黛玉).
“It is not a drama, I didn’t want to tell the whole story [of the book], just some of the relationships in the big family,” Fan said in a telephone interview.
That’s a good thing, because to tell the entire story — the rise and fall of a Qing dynasty-era family, focusing especially on the women of the family and their servants — or even half of it would take far more than the 50-minute running time of the show, not to mention taxing the eight dancers to the max.
Fan says the production creates both a fantasy and depression at the same time, but that both are just moments in time.
This weekend will be the first time the company has performed in the Experimental Theater; previous productions have had settings ranging from the Taiwan Cement Concert Hall to Taipei Water Park Square, Lau Sung Park and Taipei City Hall Family Theater.
E-Dance Theater was established by Fan and her sister Jasmine, who is dancing in this production, even though she usually works on the multimedia side, producing film and other visual bits for the shows.
From the start the company has focused on combining classical Chinese culture and aesthetics with modern visual technology and arts, combining Fan’s interest in traditional Chinese dance and Nanguan (南管) with Jasmine’s passion for filmmaking.
Fan also said this year she has collaborated with a variety of sound artists for Dreams in Mirror, something she enjoys doing.
It is the combining of the contemporary and classic elements that are interesting, she said.