Thu, Nov 23, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Cloud Gate founder Lin Hwai-min set to retire in 2019

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre founder Lin Hwai-min is pictured at the memorial concert for late Eslite Bookstore founder Robert Wu in Taipei on Sept. 2.

Photo: Sean Chao, Taipei Times

The Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) yesterday stunned the nation by announcing that the Cloud Gate Foundation board of directors had approved founder Lin Hwai-min’s (林懷民) decision to retire at the end of 2019.

The company said in a statement that the board had approved Lin’s recommendation to appoint Cloud Gate 2 (雲門2) artistic director Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍) to succeed him, starting in 2020.

Lin would officially announce his retirement this afternoon at the National Theater at the press rehearsal for his newest work, Formosa (關於島嶼), which will have its world premiere tomorrow night, the company said, adding that he would continue to serve on the foundation’s board after his retirement.

Lin told the Taipei Times yesterday that he believed the earlier he decided to retire, the better it would be for the company, because it would provide for a longer transition period.

The 70-year-old Lin founded Cloud Gate Dance Theatre in 1973, the nation’s first professional dance company, which in the decades since has become one of the leading modern dance companies in the world and the nation’s premier cultural export.

He has also been a major influence on Taiwan’s arts world as a writer, choreographer, teacher, founder of the dance department at the National Institute of the Arts — which was renamed Taipei National University of the Arts in 2001 — and mentor to dancers, choreographers and many other young artists under the Wanderer program he initiated in 2004, which provides subsidies for budding or experienced artists to travel abroad or to take time off to gain some artistic inspiration.

Lin cofounded Cloud Gate 2 in 1989 with Cloud Gate dancer-turned-colleague Lo Man-fei (羅曼菲) to provide a platform for young Taiwanese choreographers’ works.

Lo served as the troupe’s artistic director until her death in early 2006, at which point Lin took over running that company as well as the main company.

Cheng, a former Cloud Gate Dance Theatre member, is one of the younger generation of choreographers that Lin has mentored and nurtured. He began choreographing for Cloud Gate 2 after leaving the main troupe and was named resident choreographer in 2006 before becoming artistic director in 2014.

While Lin has frequently spoken of feeling his age and wanting to retire over the years, he admitted he was hampered by the lack of a clear choice to succeed him.

Speculation about a possible retirement grew after one of his knees was badly damaged in an automobile accident in December last year, requiring him to undergo months of recuperation and physical therapy.

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