Sat, Dec 05, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Cloud Gate 2 tells story of Taipei’s oldest district

Staff writer, with CNA

Cloud Gate 2 dancers on Wednesday perform at a preview of their show 13 Tongues, in Taipei’s Wanhua District.

Photo: Chen I-chuan, Taipei Times

Electronic music, shouts, stomps, incantations and dance movements mimicking religious rituals are all part of a production titled 13 Tongues (十三聲), which will be presented next year by Cloud Gate 2 to tell the story of Taipei’s earliest settlement.

The show was previewed on Wednesday on the historic Bopiliao block in the city’s Wanhua District (萬華) and is to premiere at the National Theater in March as part of the Taiwan International Festival of Arts.

Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍), a choreographer and artistic director of Cloud Gate 2, said that 13 Tongues was inspired by a tale he heard when he was a child.

“My mother once told me a story about a street artist called ‘13 Tongues,’ who performed in Wanhua District,” Cheng told reporters.

“He could play the role of a man, a woman, an elderly person or a child. He could also sing and peddle goods, and whenever he showed up, people would say: ‘Here comes 13 Tongues,’” he said.

For Cheng, the legendary street artist embodied Wanhua District during its peak period, with its bustling and colorful mix of street markets, temple culture, religious processions, traditional puppet theater shows and people from all walks of life.

Growing up in Wanhua selling slippers on the streets, Cheng said he was deeply influenced by the characters he encountered every day — vendors, homeless people, beggars and gangsters — and aimed to capture their expressions, body language and voices in his choreography.

“I hope to stir a feeling of familiarity in the audience and to move them a little,” Cheng said.

Cheng collaborated with award-winning Taiwanese composer Lim Giong (林強) on the music, which combines experimental and electronic music with incantations and ancient melodies from Hengchun in southern Taiwan.

The production is to be staged at the National Theater in Taipei from March 11 to 13, at the Chung Shan Hall in Taichung from March 18 to 19, at the Chiayi Performing Arts Center in Chiayi County on March 25 and 26, and at the Kaohsiung City Dadong Arts Center from April to 3.

Cloud Gate 2, a spinoff of the internationally renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, was established in 1999 by Cloud Gate founder and artistic director Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) to give young choreographers and dancers an opportunity to showcase their original work.

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