October 4, 2007

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre to Tour

The acclaimed Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan will be touring North and South America this September and October, visiting Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Minneapolis, Chapel Hill, the University of Kansas, New York City, and Sao Paulo. See their website for dates and ticket information.

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 calligraphy.

Wild Cursive is the result of a long journey into the ancient practice of movement and spirituality. In 2001, Lin Hwai-min further explored the possibilities of Tai Chi Tao Yin and martial arts, and created Cursive, with its title derived from Chinese calligraphy. After studying Chinese calligraphy masterpieces, Lin found, despite the differences in styles, all the brush works shared one common element: the focused energy with which the calligraphers“danced”during writing. He asked Cloud Gate dancers to improvise by facing blown-up images of calligraphy. The dancers absorbed the energy, or Chi, of the writer, and imitated the linear“route”of ink, full of lyrical flows and strong punctuations, with rich variations in energy. The exercise produced unimaginable movements, with subtle slow motions and dynamic martial-arts-like attacks. These eventually became the movement material for Cursive, a work of stunning beauty that has received rave reviews in Europe and the U.S., where it opened the American Dance Festival in 2003.

Inspired by the spirit of “wild calligraphy,” Wild Cursive utilizes paper as its only set. On a stage covered by white marley, streams of white rice paper cascade to the floor with black ink pouring from hidden pipes above, and seeping on to the paper slowly and almost invisibly. The ink feathers and spreads in abstract patterns true to the spirit of chance as set forth in I-Ching -- The Book of Changes. With these traces of time accumulating, an art installation of“set in progress”emerges. As the ink breaths through the performance, the lighting design illuminates the transparency of the rice paper and thereby enhancing the power of the flowing black images.

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