Fourteen months ago I interviewed Lin Wen-chung (林文中), who was in Taipei with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Lin was at a crossroads, beginning his final appearances with the company he had danced with for six years and preparing to move back to Taiwan to begin a new career as a freelance choreographer.
He had one job lined up. Dance Forum Taipei was going to perform his Evil Boy in December last year. But other than that, Lin knew two things for sure: he wanted to create a full-length work, and he had no interest in starting his own company.
Fast-forward to a coffee shop in Tianmu on Monday, where Lin was enthusiastically describing the set for his new work, Small, which his company WCdance will premiere next Thursday at the Crown Theater. So, what happened?
“Once I finished Evil Boy, I found that most companies want to hire choreographers. You have to be passive, wait for opportunities. Meanwhile, I’m thinking I want to be more involved in the production than the choreography. I want to have more say, so when an audience leaves the theater, they are taking away what I wanted them to see ... so I have to do it all,” he said.
He admitted that in some ways it would have been better to stay a freelancer.
“All the different things [a company director has to do] drove me crazy. You spend more time outside than inside the studio,” he said, adding later that “if you have your own company there is no money as a choreographer.”
So now he’s a little more than a week away from opening night. He’s really happy about the set, which is basically a 3m-by-3m plastic box made up of two three-sided plastic panels.
“The visual effects are more powerful than I thought they would be,” he said.
Lin said he was inspired by the small size of the Crown Theater’s stage, with its very low ceiling, which people are always complaining about.
“I thought I would just use a 3m-by-3m space, so I could take the piece anywhere, to a museum, to the beach. The stage designer asked me about using plastic to transform the stage, with the dancers as animals or people, like a display model in a store or like when we young, we had ants, fish behind glass. We can transform the dancers for the audience,” he said. “We also talked about how for dance concerts people always want to expand the space; you want it bigger, grander, everything decorated. But we want to focus on people’s bodies, on gentle subtle movements; like going to a museum to look at paintings up close.”
Asked how he recruited his dancers, he grinned again.
“It happened so quickly. I decided I needed dancers so I e-mailed everyone I knew. Five days later I held auditions. About 30 people came. For some, the timing [of rehearsals] was not right, for others the location [his Dazhi rehearsal space].”
For Small, Lin selected four dancers, plus himself. For the score of the 65-minute piece, he turned to childhood friend Umi Hsieh (謝宇書).
“He was a pop singer [and] pop composer. He had never done music for dance before. We tried to create something in-between classical, theater and pop. I’m pretty happy with the result. But he only did 80 percent or so. I had to say ‘stop now, we can’t keep going on any longer’ or else we would [have] run out of time to rehearse,” Lin said.
Asked what Small is about, Lin turned reflective.
“I think Small reflects my mood after I came back to Taiwan, especially with my wife still in New York [she’s a dancer with the Jose Limon Company]. The piece reflects my loneliness … It’s a very moody piece because before I liked to study movement, I liked flash. But now it’s deeper, more body movement, more human. In this piece I tried to simplify everything,” he said.
“It’s also a sharp change from my last piece. I wanted to tell the whole world how good I am,” he said with a huge grin. “To say ‘look at me, look at me!”
Small runs from Thursday through Dec. 21, daily at 7:30pm, with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30pm, at Crown Theater (皇冠藝文中心小劇場), B1, 50, Ln 120, Dunhua N Rd, Taipei City (台北市敦化北路120巷50號B1). Tickets are NT$500 and are available through NTCH ticketing or online at www.artsticket.com.tw.
Imagine if poor people were polled on why they drove beat up old cars. Imagine if that poll had several answers, which were “might want a better car if possible,” “want a better car as soon as possible,” “waiting on it” and “don’t want a better car.” Imagine if most people answered “waiting on it” and then, disregarding all other data, from that a scholar concluded that most poor people don’t want to drive a better car. That conclusion is absurd, and yet that is one we have seen again and again in describing the preferences of Taiwanese for the
Foreign viewers at the Cannes premiere of Moneyboys (金錢男孩) may not have noticed the glaring incongruities that persist through the movie, but Taiwanese viewers certainly will. They’re apparent to the point that it’s difficult to enjoy the movie. First of all, the entire film is obviously shot in Taiwan, but the plot is set in fictional locales in southern China, with most secondary characters, passersby and television announcers speaking in Beijing-accented Mandarin. This melancholy tale revolves around gay sex workers in China and the unique challenges they face, especially regarding traditional expectations, including marriage, and the large-scale rural-to-urban migration of
Nov. 29 to Dec. 5 Every time Chu Chen (朱震) flew deep into enemy territory, he knew there was a good chance he wasn’t coming back. With two-thirds of the Black Bat Squadron — 148 members — perishing between 1953 and 1967, the odds were not on his side. Chu had several brushes with death during his six years with the CIA-supported Bats, once surviving only because his Chinese attacker ran out of ammunition. But he pulled through each time and completed a total of 33 missions, the squadron’s second highest. He lived to the age of 86, receiving a presidential
My goals were straightforward. I’d ride my motorcycle from my home in Tainan along back-country roads into Kaohsiung’s Tianliao (田寮) and Cishan (旗山) districts, then loop back through Yanchao (燕巢). I had a short list of places I wanted to visit along the way, and I was confident I’d stumble across a few more points of interest. Turning off Provincial Highway 19A (19甲), I veered northeast on Tainan Local Road 163 (南163) until I saw a sign for Daping (大坪). Like 163, this second (and apparently unnumbered) road turned out to be a gently undulating rural delight. I passed a few