Sun, Mar 30, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Monument opened to Tsai Jui-yueh, a pioneer of dance

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

With many women's rights activists watching, a monument to commemorate Taiwan's pioneer in modern dance, Tsai Jui-yueh (蔡瑞月), was unveiled yesterday at the site of the dance school in Taipei that she founded in 1953.

"The erection of the monument is a tribute to Taiwan's history and women, as well as a reminder of the example that Tsai set for the coming generations," said Tchen Yu-chiou (陳郁秀), secretary-general of the National Cultural Association.

Tsai was born in 1921 during the Japanese colonial period. As a child, she showed her interest and talent in dance by creating a dance to accompany the Japanese children's song Momotaro-san when she was five years old.

At the age of 16, Tsai traveled to Japan to learn from modern dance master Ishi Baku, participating in hundreds of performances across Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar and Japan during World War II.


On her journey back to Taiwan from Japan after World War II, Tsai gave the first performance of the musical The Beautiful Island on the ferry.

However, when her husband was accused of spying for the Chinese Communist Party and expelled from Taiwan in 1949, Tsai was also arrested and imprisoned for three years on Green Island, where many other political prisoners were jailed.

After her release, Tsai continued her career by founding a school for modern dance and a dance troupe in Taipei in 1953, though the authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime often intervened.

In 1983, Tsai and her son moved to Australia to continue her career. She often traveled back and forth between Taiwan and Australia until her death in 2005.

"I admire [Tsai] for her insistence on what she loved, despite repressions and restrictions that the government put upon her during the White Terror," Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) told the audience.

Several of Tsai's former students performed dances and read poems in commemoration of their teacher.


The monument is made with colorful steel boards that form the shape of a woman jumping with her head held up towards the sky.

"The colors symbolize the colorful creativity of Tsai, and the gesture represents her desire to search for perfection in art," T.T. Deh (鄭自才), the architect who designed the monument, explained to the audience.

Deh was convicted in 1970 for a failed assassination attempt on late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who was visiting New York as premier at the time.

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