Talent spotting in Kaohsiung and Taipei

Kaohsiung City Ballet will be performing works by several choreographers that founder Chang Hsiu-ru has mentored, while one of those that she championed has a show of his own in Taipei

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jan 10, 2019 - Page 14

Kaohsiung City Ballet (KCB, 高雄城市芭蕾舞團) founder/artistic director Chang Hsiu-ru (張秀如) has a well-honed eye for talent, and that talent-spotting will be on display in this year’s Dance Shoe production, (2019點子鞋), which opens on Saturday at the Kaohsiung Cultural Center.

The talent of one of Chang’s finds will also be on display in Taipei this weekend as Lai Hung-chung’s (賴翃中) fledgling company, Hung Dance (翃舞製作), performs his first full-length work, Boundless (無盡 天空), at the National Experimental Theater.

‘Dance shoe’

Chang’s Dance Shoe productions usually make it to the theater, but she was unable to get onto its schedule this month, or that of another Taipei venue, so her troupe will only be performing the show in Kaohsiung and then in Tainan at the end of the month.

Two of the choreographers that Chang invited to create works for the 16th edition of Dance Shoe have a lot in common: Chien Lin-yi (簡麟懿) and Wei Tzu-ling (魏梓錂) are National Taipei University of the Arts (TNUA, 國立臺北藝術大學) alumni, have danced in previous Dance Shoe productions and choreographed for last year’s show.

Chang also invited Hsieh Pei-shan (謝佩珊), whose three-year-old HPS Dance Theater is based in Kaohsiung, as well as Li Zong-lin (李宗霖) and South Korean Lee Jeong-yun.

Chien’s Sway Me, set on Tzeng Tzu-yin (曾子音), is the only solo on the program, while there are three duets — Wei’s Dominator, Li’s Wuqiao (無殼, “Shell-less”) and Lee’s Alone Together — while Hsieh’s work, X Guanxi (X 關係, “X Relationship”), is set on three dancers, including KCB veteran Ally Yeh (葉麗娟).

Lee, who was a principal dancer with the National Theater of Korea for many years before focusing on choreography, was a visiting professor at TNUA last year and his From Inside was performed as part of the university’s annual summer concert in June last year.

His training encompassed traditional Korean dance as well as ballet and modern, but Alone Together is definitely modern ballet.

It will be danced on Saturday by Lee’s former colleague and long-time partner, prima ballerina Kim Joo-won, and National Theater of Korea soloist Jung Young-jae, but Hsiao Yi-han (蕭翊涵) and Chiu Chu-en (邱主恩) will dance it in the two Tainan shows.

Opening tomorrow night, Lai’s Boundless is set on five dancers: former KCB dancer Cheng I-han (鄭伊涵), Chien, Yang Hsin-ching (楊雅晴), Huang Hsiang (黃翔) and Li Hong-cheng (李杭澄), which surely must have presented Chien with a bit of a conflict of interest.

Like Chien, Lai and Cheng are TNUA alumni, and with Cheng and Chien performing, Lai won third prize and critics’ prize at the 31th International Choreographic Competition Hannover in Germany for Watcher in June 2017 — the month after he founded his company.

The trio’s success was followed the next month with first prize at the 16th Burgos & New York International Choreography Competition in Spain for Birdy.

Those prizes were just the start of a winning streak for Lai, who has since picked up other awards in Spain, Japan and Switzerland, more proof, if any were needed, that he has firmly staked out a spot on the list of exciting young Taiwanese choreographers to watch.

With the 75-minute Boundless, which premiered at the “Made in Taiwan 5th Taiwan Arts Festival” in Madrid in October last year, Lai further explores some of the themes that inspired him for Birdy, including absurdity, irrational events and feedback.