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Taiwan

“Still, Lin’s challenging movement ranks him as one of the more fascinating choreographers on the world stage today, a maestro blending East, West, old and new into a vision all his own.” (Chicago Tribune)

Greeted with enthusiasm when it presented its gorgeous Moon Water in Montreal in 2004, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan kicks off the Danse Danse 10th anniversary program. Directed by Lin Hwai-min, voted a Choreographer of the 20th Century by Dance Europe magazine, the company will be here to present Wild Cursive, the third and final segment in a trilogy inspired by Chinese calligraphy, a rigorous artistic discipline that is highly revered in the East. Celebrated worldwide for its unique language and its dancers’ flawless technique, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan will appear on stage at Théâtre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts on September 20, 21 and 22, 2007.

Writing with the Body in Space
Wild Cursive had its world premiere in November 2005 in Taiwan. Its title – Kuang Tsao in Chinese – refers to the expression of the freest and most highly evolved form of the calligraphic styles. Kuang Tsao frees the written characters of all conventions and, through its expressive abstraction, reveals the spiritual state of the artist. Like Kuang Tsao, Wild Cursive relies on virtuosity and expressiveness.

 
 

“Wild Cursive is also Lin Hwai-min’s most impressive work in years. It is dance stripped to its bare essentials.” (Taipei Times)

Composed of 12 scenes, the work brings together 19 phenomenal dancers who alternate slow, contemplative movements with dizzyingly fast ones. On the stage, long strips of white rice paper cascade to the stage floor; each absorbing serpentine and meandering streams of ink that traces whimsical abstract figures. With amazing agility, the dancers come together, break apart, play with the transparency of the paper and form unexpected characters in space. Throughout, the dancers' breath coming from the Dan Tian, the core of their torsos, provides a subtle undercurrent. Their organic vocals and foot stomps further enrich the natural soundscape from hum of cicadas, gusts of wind, waves breaking on the pebbled beaches, dripping water, rainfall, foghorns and temple bell.

“The way the lines flows into one another in the ensemble scenes, the way the energy flies in all directions before pulling together – it is all of great visual beauty. The Cloud Gate dancers understand how to coordinate body and spirit like a good calligrapher.” (Der Taggesspiegel, Germany)

Genesis of a Trilogy
Cursive: A Trilogy is a landmark series of Lin Hwai-min with groundbreaking movement style derived from the traditional Chinese body disciplines and original choreographic ideas inspired by the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy.

For several years now, under the direction of Lin Hwai-min, Cloud Gate has been exploring traditional Chinese body disciplines, including meditation, martial art, and tai chi tao yin, a ancient form of chi kung. The outcomes from these forms of training were Songs of the Wanderers (1994) and Moon Water (1998), both receiving international acclaim at festivals and theatres around the world.

After studying the masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy, the choreographer noted that “Calligraphy is not only about brush and ink. Rather, it is a trail of energy on rice paper left behind by its creator.” This energy forms the basis of the Cursive trilogy project, in which Lin Hwai-min sets up a parallel between the lines of characters and those of movements; the brush dances on paper, the body writes in space.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
In 2003, the government of Taipei proclaimed August 21 Cloud Gate Day in honour of the company’s 30th anniversary and to recognize its contribution to the cultural life of Taipei. It also named the alley where the company’s office is located Cloud Gate Lane, a first-time honour for an active artistic organization. A testament to the company’s reputation.

According to legend, Cloud Gate is the name of the oldest known dance in China, a ritual dance of some 5,000 years ago. In 1973, choreographer Lin Hwai-min adopted this classical name for the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese speaking community: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan

Cloud Gate's rich repertoire has its roots in Asian myths, folklore, and aesthetics, but it brings to these age-old beliefs and stories a contemporary and universal perspective. The company is made up of two dozen dancers whose training includes tai chi tao yin – an ancient form of chi kung, meditation, martial arts, Chinese opera movement, modern dance, ballet and Chinese calligraphy.

Cloud Gate has gone on extensive overseas tours throughout the continents of Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, and South America, including engagements at New York's Next Wave Festival, the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival, the Lyon Biannual Dance Festival, the Melbourne Festival, the Adelaide Festival, the Berlin Festival, the festival celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, Sadler's Wells Theatre and Barbican Theatre in London, Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Kennedy Center.

 
 

Lin Hwai-min
Called an “unchallenged giant of Asia” by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Lin Hwai-min studied Chinese opera movements in Taiwan, classical court dance in Japan and Korea, and modern dance in New York. Founder and artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Lin Hwai-min holds several honorary doctorates and has won many prestigious awards, among them the 1999 Ramon Magsaysay Award, also known as the Nobel Prize of Asia. The following year, alongside Pina Bausch, Jirí Kylián, Merce Cunningham and William Forsythe, he was chosen as one of the Choreographers of the 20th Century by Dance Europe magazine. “He has had the same impact on Asian dance as William Forsythe and his Frankfurt Ballet in Europe” (Dance Europe).

In 2006, renowned dancer Sylvie Guillem, the super star of the ballet world, commissioned a solo from Lin Hwai-min for Sacred Monsters, her shared program with Akram Khan. Khan first brought his company to Montreal at the invitation of Danse Danse for its 2005-2006 season.

LIN Hwai-min founded the dance department at the National Taipei University for the Arts in 1983 and chaired it for five years. Since 2000, he has also served as the artistic director of the Novel Dance Series, a showcase for internationally renowned contemporary dance artists and companies. The choreographer has also directed the critically acclaimed Rashomon at the Graz Opera in Austria in 1996 and a brilliant Tosca  with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan in 2002.

in Hwai-min is also a well-known author; his novels, including the best-selling novella Cicada, have been translated into English and published in the United States.

Duration: 70 minutes, no intermission

www.cloudgate.org.tw

Credits
Choreography: LIN Hwai-min
Music: Jim SHUM, LIANG Chun-mei
Concept: LIN Hwai-min
Technical Consultant: Austin WANG
Realization: HUNG Wei-ming
Paper and Ink: Chung Rhy Special Paper, Union Chemical Laboratories of Industrial Technology Research Institute
Lighting Design: CHANG Tsan-tao
Costumes Design: Sammy WANG
Commission:Yong Lin Foundation, National Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Center, R.O.C.
Co-Commission: The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago with support from The Joyce Foundation and Alphawood Foundation . Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

Photos 1 & 3 LIU Chen-hsiang, photo 2 LIN Ching-yuan

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