In choreographer Lin Wen-chung’s (林文中) first two productions for his company WCdance (林文中舞團), he made a virtue out of necessity, creating finely honed works set on a small number of dancers to be performed in small venues. When you are just starting out, you can’t afford to hire a lot of dancers or big venues and your sets have to be portable.
No longer the new kid on the block, Lin has expanded his vision, yet kept to his minimalist approach with his newest work, Small Puzzles (), which opens at the Experimental Theater in Taipei on Thursday for five shows before going on the road next month.
Other choreographers may love computer imagery and multimedia magic, but not Lin.
“My works are anti-technology,” Lin said with a laugh during an interview on Saturday last week. “The most high-tech we get is putting a light in one of the small pillars to make it look like a flashlight.”
His original idea had been to recycle the white platform he used for a stage in last year’s Small Songs (情歌) by cutting it into pieces so that the dancers could play with them. Stage designer Yao Jui-Chung (姚瑞中) suggested enlarging children’s blocks instead.
You can see how the simplicity of the blocks’ shapes would appeal to Yao, whose background is in photography and installation, not stage design. However, the pieces are so big that the dancers resemble ants, Lin said, which is apropos since his first piece for WCdance, Small (小), confined the dancers to a Plexiglas cube that resembled an ant farm.
Lin is so low-tech that to work out the choreography for Small Puzzles he bought a wooden puzzle set from Toys“R”Us and painted it white.
“Everyday I would go home, play with the blocks and then the next day we would go into the studio to try out the moves,” he said. “Since we don’t have the space to be able to look down from above, and the set pieces are so heavy, it would just be a waste of energy to move them without planning ahead.”
The music was suggested by Lin’s mentor and former boss, Bill T. Jones: Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier.
“Two years ago I was choreographing a piece using Tchaikovsky. Bill wrote a letter to say that when he was driving he was listening to Bach and thought it was well suited for me. I thought ‘OK,’ but didn’t know when I would use it. I’m afraid the audience will fall asleep since the music is only one piano [and pianist Chen Huei-yu (陳慧宇)], but I think the music can be enough,” Lin said. “Keep the music simple, the stage simple, the costumes simple. I haven’t used one-piece leotards since I was in college.”
The 70-minute performance (no intermission) is divided into four sections: The Window, The Figures and Shadows, The Loop and The River of Time.
Lin uses the blocks and lighting to establish the area for each section.
“The Window is a game of negative space. We just use the interior space suggested by the form of a box, like the windows of a building. In The Figures and Shadows, the dancers hold the blocks so they become figures, like ants or workers on the street,” he said.
“The Loop is like a broken CD player; it’s the only section where the music is repeated three times. The movement is circle, swing and repeat,” he said. “I think The River of Time is the one that people will find the easiest to understand — we build a boat, there’s a river, a storm that washes away the people, 12 blocks laid out like a clock face.”
“I’m still trying to use musicality as a way to connect with regular people,” Lin said. “People in Taiwan like dance, but they won’t pay to see it. Modern dance is too abstract for them, they don’t get it.”
What: WCdance, Small Puzzles (尛)
WHERE: Experimental Theater of the National Theater (國家戲劇院實驗劇場)
WHEN: Thursday to Sept. 25 at 7:30pm, Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 at 2:30pm
ADMISSION: Tickets are NT$500, available at NTCH box office or through www.artsticket.com.tw
ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES: Oct. 23 at 7:30pm at Yilan Performance Hall (宜蘭演藝廳), 482, Chungshan Rd Sec 2, Yilan City (宜蘭市中山路二段482號); Oct. 30 at 7:30pm at National Taichung Library Chungsing Concert Hall (台中市中興堂), 291-3 Jingwu Rd, Taichung City (台中市精武路291之3號); Nov. 17 at 7:30pm at Experimental Theater of Chiayi Performance Arts Center (嘉義縣表演藝術中心實驗劇場), 265, Jianguo Rd Sec 2, Minsyong Township, Chiayi County (嘉義縣民雄鄉建國路二段265號); and Dec. 10 at 7:30pm at Kaohsiung Weiwuying Metropolitan Park (高雄衛武營藝術文化中心281棟). Admission is NT$300 for Yilan and Chiayi shows, NT$350 for Taichung and Kaohsiung
The advent of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has spawned a new genre of fantasy and science fiction in which males (invariably white) argue that it is an “opportunity” or that the government should open up and let the virus run its course. After all, Omicron is “mild,” as numerous studies are now showing, and even more so among the previously infected and/or vaccinated population. It’s time, they argue, to accept that COVID-19 will be with us forever and re-open the country. The government must face reality, must “move from denial to acceptance” as one recent poster on LinkedIn put
It’s as if the outside world conspired to rob Yanshuei (鹽水) of its importance and prosperity. As waterways filled with silt, access to the ocean — which had made it possible for this little town, several kilometers from the sea in the northern part of Tainan, to become a major entrepot — was lost. The north-south railway, a key driver of economic development during the 1895-1945 period of Japanese rule, never arrived. Then, in the 1970s, the sugar industry went into terminal decline. Like Taiwan’s other old settlements, Yanshuei used to be a walled town. The defensive barrier is long
Are you in control of your smartphone or is it in control of you? Sometimes it is difficult to tell. One minute you might be using FaceTime to chat with loved ones or talking about your favorite TV show on Twitter. Next, you’re stuck in a TikTok “scroll hole” or tapping your 29th e-mail notification of the day and no longer able to focus on anything else. We often feel like we can’t pull ourselves away from our devices. As various psychologists and Silicon Valley whistleblowers have stated, that is by design. Many people are making efforts to resist and step away
Who on earth wants fish tank wastewater, chicken poo, tumble-dryer lint, loo roll tubes, “a plaster mould of a Komodo dragon’s foot” or half a broken toilet? No one, you might think, but the Buy Nothing community begs to differ: these are all real “gifts” snapped up by more than 5 million members worldwide, who give away their unwanted items in the local community. It’s living proof that “one person’s trash is another’s treasure,” as Alisa Miller, the administrator of the group puts it. Miller offered her daughter’s broken toy birdcage with little hope anyone would want it; it was snapped