British Columbia's Gateway Theatre is playing host to Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Nov. 21 to 23.
One of New York's 1995 BAM Festival hits, this dance theatre company hails from Taipei, where its artistic director, Lin Hwai-min, is considered one of Asia's most influential choreographers. He is working here with a poem cycle called Nine Songs, written more than 2,000 years ago by one of China's great poets, Qu Yang. The poem is about the nature of love married to a lonely death, as seen through the eyes of a political exile.
But in adapting this work to the stage, Lin is not so much interested in recreating what has been lost for centuries, as examing China's global position at the end of the 20th century. He says he wants to look at how a Chinese confronts their Oriental, Middle Kingdom past against the reality of the present.
Lin has attended both the Martha Graham Dance School and the Merce Cunningham Studios, as well as studying Chinese opera movement and Korean and Japanese classical court dances. This fusion of west and east shows up in Nine Songs, where 22 performers dance to music from India, Tibet, Japan and the indigenous tribes of Taiwan, in styles drawn from China, Southeast Asia and the West.
Veteran Tony award-winning designer Ming Cho Lee has created the set. Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan is at Richmond, B.C.'s Gateway Theatre, Nov. 21 to 23. For tickets call: 604-270-1812.
-- By Mira Friedlander