Two of the nation’s younger dance troupes are performing their latest works this weekend, Dancecology (舞蹈生態系創意團隊) in Taipei and HuiDance (匯舞集) in Greater Tainan. In an interesting quirk of fate, both shows were inspired by “momentary sparks of life,” both have a foreign dancer among the performers and the founders of the two troupes are both graduates of the Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA).
Dancecology was founded in 2009 by Peng Hsiao-yin (彭筱茵), a former member of the Neo-Classical Dance Company (新古典舞團) who received her MFA from TNUA’s Graduate Institute of Choreography. She wanted to focus on site-specific environmental theater, combining dance and ecology, which led to the company’s name. While her troupe frequently performs in outdoor locations, this weekend they are moving inside to the Huashan 1914 Creative Park.
HuiDance was founded two years later by Tainan-born and bred Tsai Hui-chen (蔡慧貞), who danced with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) before moving to Switzerland, where she became a first soloist with the Stadttheater Bern Ballet and also danced as a guest with the Stadttheater Dortmound in Germany. She had studied dance and choreography at TNUA back when it was called National University of the Arts. When she decided to move back home, she did so with the intention of starting a dance troupe that could serve as a space for cross-cultural innovation and experimentation between different artistic genres.
Dancecology will be performing Synapse (突感觸發) on the second floor of Huashan’s Fruit Wine Building. Choreographed by Peng, the piece examines the unconscious triggers, the “sparks” that motivate the body’s synapses through a combination of multimedia effects, installations, music and dance. Peng’s choreography builds layers of movement, trying to discover what connects the human nervous system to the body.
The company’s four dancers will be joined by Frenchman Claude Aymon, a dancer, actor and musical performer who has been in Taiwan on-and-off for the past two years. He first came to Taiwan as part of the International Youth Dance Program to work with Zuoying High School in Greater Kaohsiung and the World Dance Alliance. He came back last year to be the artist-in-resident at the Bamboo Curtain Studio (竹圍工作室) in Tamsui District (淡水), New Taipei City (新北市).
Down in Greater Tainan, HuiDance will be performing Scenery (風景) at the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center.
Scenery was choreographed by Francesco D’Astici, the artistic director of I.T Fused Dance in Italy, who also worked with Tsai on the company’s show last year, The Door (門). D’Astici has danced with the Kiel Ballet in Germany and worked as a dancer on several musicals in London and other European capitals, as well as working with Matthew Bourne, including the lead role in Bourne’s all-male Swan Lake.
Scenery examines different life tracks, the moment they intersect and the intersection of dance and music and the ebb and flow of time. D’Astici uses a lot of dance improvisation, allowing the five dancers and three musicians (a keyboard player, cellist and violinist) to inspire and motivate one another. The work is divided into four scenes (hence the name): Scene of the Body, Scene of Memory, Scene of Depth and Scene of Four Seasons.
HuiDance will also perform Scenery in Taipei the following weekend, for three shows at the Red Theater in Xinminding (西門町).