The all-male dance collective Horse Dance Theater (驫舞劇場) is no longer the new kid on the block. Founded in December 2004, the troupe has a long list of productions under its belt, both at home and abroad, as well as several awards.
Part of its appeal has been the changing roster of men who have performed with the company over the years, including several who have gone on to make a name for themselves individually both as choreographers and dancers, such as Chou Shu-yi (周書毅) and Huang Yi (黃翊).
For Horse co- founder and artistic director Chen Wu-kang (陳武康), this flexibility helps the company pursue its quest for multi-faceted and diverse styles of dance and productions.
The company’s latest show, To Every Man His Dog (男人與狗), performed this weekend in the Shuiyuan Theater on Roosevelt Road, features three younger members, Huang Huai-de (黃懷德), Huang Yong-huai (黃詠淮) and Cheng Hao (鄭皓).
Huang Huai-de has been developing strongly in recent year after showing promise with his piece, A House Male, which was selected for the National Theater’s New Productions of Emerging Taiwanese Choreographers program in 2008. It was one of the standouts on the program.
Chen said his main role for this show was providing advice, but otherwise he left the choreographic and artistic decisions up to the trio, though he admits he was not thrilled with the title.
“They like it. They think a dog is a best friend, so you can talk to a dog. I suggested another animal, but they can’t do it. For them, it’s like talking to an object, like a piece of furniture,” Chen said in a telephone interview on Tuesday from the set where he is acting in a movie, hence his limited participation in this project.
He said he couldn’t really describe the piece, but he was full of enthusiasm for the men’s talent.
“I can’t tell you if its a good piece, choreographically wise, but they dance fantastically. I only say [that] I can’t change them, I shouldn’t. I can only help by pointing out some blank spots,” he said. “They dance better, better, with more power. They dance with everything, really juicy. At least they dance fabulously, they’re not walking around acting a lot, feeling sentimental … so I am satisfied.”
He is excited about the theater, a new venue for the company.
“The stage is bigger, wider. Three hundred seats, so we can sell more tickets,” he said.
Chen was also admiring of the set, by installation artist Wang Jian-yang (王建揚).
“His work usually has a lot of nudity. He’s very hot. I don’t know how he convinces so many women and men to take off their clothes. This is the first time he has been set designer. He took lots of stuff from our studio in Banchiao and next door ... fridges, tv, stairs. It’s great,” Chen said.
After this weekend’s performance, Horse will perform next month in Greater Kaohsiung.