This weekend sees the second program in the National Theater Concert Hall’s New Idea Dance series, with Yang Wei-chen’s (楊維真) intriguingly titled The Hotel Bubbles (泡泡旅社).
This series, now in its 10th year, grouped this year’s shows under the theme “Who Is She?” and feature the work of three young(ish) Taiwanese dancer/choreographers: Yang, Chen Yun-ju (陳韻如) and Lai Tsui-shuang (賴翠霜). In addition to being all women, the three have all studied and/or worked abroad for many years.
Yang studied at the Amsterdam School of the Arts before moving to France to work with the contemporary dance company CIE Eolipile, founded by fellow Taiwanese Lin Yuan-shang (林原上). She is also the artistic director of her own Shilin-based troupe, Wu-Fa-Biao-Da (舞法表達), which she founded in 2005, and which will be performing in this weekend’s show.
Like many contemporary dance choreographers, Yang has developed a fusion style that blends different performance genres. In her case, she mixes ballet, hip-hop and martial arts.
For someone who has lived and worked in different countries and cultures, it is not surprising that Yang’s inspiration comes from a variety of sources. For The Hotel Bubbles, Yang drew inspiration from the popular Taiwanese Taoist deity Nezha (哪吒), also known as Santaizi (the Third Prince, 三太子) and the hero of French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince.
The Third Prince is considered a playful, even rebellious spirit, and in recent years has become something of a dancing mascot for Taiwan (20 of them drove into the Kaohsiung World Games in 2009 on motorcycles before launching into a dance routine). The Little Prince is a rather serious, but curious young boy who has fallen to Earth from his home asteroid after traveling to different planets in search of a cure for his loneliness.
The commonality is their infinite curiosity and search for the human heart, and in Yang’s production, the two princes link up to help adults find their childlike vision.
Besides an affinity for child icons, Yang appears to have a fondness for bubble metaphors — some of her previous works include Bubbles Airline (泡泡航空公司), Miss Bubble (泡泡小姐) and Bubble W@nderland (泡泡奇慾鏡).
Performing alongside Yang this weekend will be some familiar faces (and bodies): Tian Yi-wei (田懿葳), who has also worked with Chou Shu-yi (周書毅) and Dancers (周先生與舞者們); Lu Da-yan (劉大雁), who works with U-Theatre’s (優人神鼓) gifted young people program; Ke Te-feng (柯德峰), who has made an impression with Ku & Dancers (古舞團); and Lian Jya-jun (連嘉駿).
For the score, Yang turned to Chiang Tao (蔣韜) of the alternative-rock band the Blue Velvets (藍絲絨).
Saturday afternoon’s matinee will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Yang.
After this weekend, audiences will have to wait a month to see the final production in this year’s New Idea Dance series, Lai’s Home Temperature (家‧溫℃), which will be performed from July 26 to July 28 in the Experimental Theater.