Dancer/choreographer Lin Wen-chung (林文中) founded WCdance five years ago, several months after leaving the New York City-based Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company to return home to Taiwan.
Since then he has developed a reputation for finely crafted, minimalist works for a handful of dancers that focused on stripping the excess from dance — be it space, form or function — beginning with Small (小) (2008), Small Songs (情歌) (2009), Small Puzzles (2010) and Small Nanguan (小南管) (2011).
Now he feels it is time to expand his horizons and find new challenges, so his latest creation is the appropriately titled Small End (小．結), which opens tomorrow night at the Experimental Theater in Taipei.
“It is the last in the Small series. Because in today’s environment — compared to 2008 — there are more and more small groups. Before the average dance performance was 10 to 12 dancers, but now there are many duets and trio shows,” Lin said in an interview. “About five years is enough. Small is restrictive… I need to give myself more freedom to express ... I like to give myself a challenge for each series. I want to step forward now.”
Asked what Small End is about, Lin said that it was a continuation of the series, which has been getting more “sparse” with every installment.
“It is about the philosophy of nothing, of emptiness,” he said.
“This piece is like a very quiet voice, a very minimum voice to speak to a loud society. Everything you think of modern dance, the beauty, the form, I take out. It is extremely minimalist.”
Of the five dancers, including Lin himself, there is only one new face. However, for his music and stage design, Lin picked new collaborators. Both are well-known in their fields and have worked with choreographers before, most notably Su Wen-chi (蘇文琪).
Sound artist Chang Yung-ta (張永達) likes computer music, Lin said, but his work this time is very, very quiet ... very different from his past works with other choreographers.
“I was trying to take the melody out ... I wanted to try voice, not music. He’s good at that,” Lin said.
Wu Chi-tsung (吳季璁) is a photographer, videographer and installation artist, and he has often created images that challenge perceptions of the physical and natural world.
Lin said his request to Wu was very simple. He wanted a huge black hole, to make everything in the theater disappear so that only the dancers’ bodies are left.
Speaking of bodies, audiences will be seeing a lot of the dancers, though not as much as Lin initially wanted.
“Originally I thought it would be a nude piece, but after talking with the dancers, they are too conservative, so now we are just covering ‘the important parts,’” Lin said.
He has already found out how easily shocked people in Taipei are, after receiving a police warning about the photo shoot for the troupe’s poster and advertisements, which features the backside of a nude man.
“We were on a roof, not on the street. I don’t know why people called the police. People in Taiwan are so afraid of seeing nude people,” Lin said, adding that the company had to write a report to the government explaining that they were just doing a photo shoot, nothing pornographic.
After this weekend, the company will take Small End on the road, to Greater Kaohsiung the following weekend and Greater Taichung on Oct. 23. It is a shorter tour than in previous years, because Lin said he does not have the time to do a longer one.
“I was asked to do my next production for TIAF [the National Theater Concert Hall’s Taiwan International Arts Festival] in March, so I can’t do too many places because I have to start on the new piece,” Lin said.
While he said that work, scheduled for the Experimental Theater, would feature nanguan (南管) music again, he was less sure about what direction he would take his company now that he is finished with small things.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “But for now I need more freedom, to take forms and restrictions out.”
What: Small End
When: Tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2:30pm
Where: Experimental Theater (國家戲劇院實驗劇場), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)
Admission: NT$600; available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw or at 7-Eleven ibon kiosks. Friday’s show is sold out
Oct. 19 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm at the Tsoying Boy’s High School dance theater (高雄左營高中舞蹈班劇場), 55 Haikung Rd, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市左營區海公路55號); Oct. 23 at 7:30pm at the Chunghsing Concert Hall (國立臺灣體育運動大學中興堂), 291-3 Jingwu Rd, Greater Taichung (台中市精武路291之3號)
Admission: NT$400; available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw or at 7-Eleven ibon kiosks