Sunday, October 20, 2013

Taiwan Kinaesthetics: Cloud Gate Dance Theater

When I lived in Taipei in 1979-80, I spent an awful lot of time memorizing characters and repeating sentences in Chinese that I listened to in the language lab. But once in a while I got out and lived a little.

One of my favorite discoveries about Taipei of that time was Cloud Gate Dance Theater. The way I looked at it, they had three big things going for them:
(1) Cloud Gate combined the best of Martha Graham technique with all manner of Chinese and other referents - from movement, music, and the visual arts. Cloud Gate made particularly inventive use of fabric - great billowing sheets, representing clouds, ocean waves, etc.

(2) Many of the dances Cloud Gate created explored themes in Taiwan (and Chinese) history and culture.

(3) The company founder and director, Lin Hwai-min (pinyin: Lin Huaimin), in addition to his role in the dance world, was a leading light of the Taiwan literary scene. (You can read more about Lin here.)
And the fourth thing they had going for them was that they operated a dance school. (This seemed marvelous to me at the time -- babe in the woods that I was -- though now I guess I understand that that's de rigeur for a dance company.) Invited/challenged by some of my (female) classmates to come check it out, I rode the bus up to the Cloud Gate studio northeast corner of Taipei, and thus began my short-lived career as a student of modern dance.

Unfortunately no photos of me in that dance class survive, but try to imagine a line of about a dozen petite, lithe, adorable Chinese dancers in leotards, and in their midst, one disjointed, oddball American standing out.

Below are some pictures of Cloud Gate dances - enjoy!

Wind Shadow

Legend of the White Snake

More about Taipei c. 1979 . . . .

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