A dance force to be reckoned with

For the second production celebrating its 30th year, Dance Forum Taipei invited Japanese choreographer Toru Shimazaki, who created a program featuring one revival and two new works

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 26, 2019 - Page 14

Dance Forum Taipei (DFT, 舞蹈空間) is marking its 30th anniversary this year, and it certainly has a lot to celebrate — so much so that the party is going to continue until November of next year.

Since its inception, the contemporary troupe founded by Ping Heng (平珩) has staged 72 productions, worked with 56 choreographers from Taiwan and abroad and toured North America, Europe and Asia.

One of Ping’s goals has been to train a professional cadre of dancers capable of working with a wide variety of choreographers and in different techniques, and to have the company serve as an open platform for artists, with productions that range from the purely abstract to full-length dance theater pieces.

Over the past 11 years, the company has created several coproductions with foreign companies such as the Nederlands Dans Theater and Skanes Dansteater of Sweden, as well as theaters and production companies like Korzo Theater in The Hague and Mercat de les Flors in Barcelona. Some of the productions have premiered in Taiwan as part of the National Theater Concert Hall’s Taiwan International Festival of Art (TIFA) and then toured abroad, and some have started overseas and then returned home.

So for the troupe’s anniversary, Peng decided to present four productions featuring works by DFT’s own choreographers and dancers as well as three international choreographers that have created some of the company’s most groundbreaking works.

The party began in May with Jiang, a series of three programs featuring a total of eight works by in-house choreographers and former members, at its home base in Taipei.

This weekend it is the turn of Japanese choreographer Toru Shimazaki, who has brought some of his own dancers to perform with DFT members at the National Taichung Theater as part of its “Fall for Great Souls” program, followed by two shows at Taipei’s Metropolitan Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

The show, titled Dance Force features three works, 2014’s Zero Body (零極限), South (南之頌) and In the blink of an eye (瞬舞力).

The first explores the femininity, beauty and strength of women dancers. The company performed it in April 2016 as part of its Moving with Shimazaki mixed bill, and it was a 30 minute tour de force for the eight dancers requiring drill-team like precision. For this year’s shows, Shimazaki has expanded the cast to 10 women.

South celebrates Taiwan’s indigenous cultures, featuring music by Sanpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw and other Aboriginal artists, as well as elements of Aboriginal rituals and dances that inspired Shimazaki during a 2015 visit to Taiwan.

In the blink of an eye, set on 13 dancers, explores the inner and external relationships in modern life.

Shimazaki’s choreography is always closely integrated with the music he has chosen, but it is not just the tempo and rhythm, but the emotion of the music he is after.

His first piece for DFT was Run in 2007, part of a double bill with Lin Wen-chung’s (林文中) Evil Boy Trilogy at Taipei’s Novel Hall. Two years later he was back to help celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary with Grace in October 2009, a lovely series of duets for eight dancers. Moving with Shimazaki was another strong mixed program that really showed the DFT’s dancers, although I did not like second work, The Game, performed by three men.

However, Shimazaki has more hits than misses, and Dance Force looks to be a winner.

DFT’s birthday party will pick up again in April with Moon River 2.0 in April as part of next year’s TIFA, a production with the all-male dance company The Condors from Tokyo, whose Moon River coproduction with DFT in June 2010 at the National Theater was a hysterical romp.

DFT’s final birthday present is a yet-to-be-titled work by Netherlands-based Spanish choreographer Marina Mascerell, a resident artist at Korzo who has worked with the company four times before, each one a riveting production: 2010’s Like an Olive Tree, 2013’s The Unreality of Time (時境) and 2015’s It is like a large animal deep in sleep (沉睡的巨獸) and Three Times Rebel in 2017.

Temporarily entitled Media, it will premiere at the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts (Weiwuying) on Oct. 31 next year.