Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s unique blend of contemporary, Chinese dance, Taiwanese indigenous dance, Peking opera movements, ballet and Japanese Kendo has created a mesmerising repertoire that’s graced the stage over the years.
But it is time that the master choreographer, Lin Hwai-min – whose ingenious mind has seen dancers perform balanced on bamboo, surrounded by water and mirrors, under falling rice and with huge rolls of black silk unravelling from the ceiling – to present his final piece before retiring.
Formosa is set to the words of poetry that provides both the visual and audio backdrop to a hypnotic, serene and pared back performance, that’s focussed on the flow and form of their renowned movement. And as a stream of Chinese characters fall, we’re taken on a guided journey through nature with that dancers who move like a ripple in a pond and end as a rolling ocean.
The beauty of the piece is the constant movement, both individually and collectively, which gives an indulgent view of the different dance techniques and influences that shape the dancers bodies.
Their feet are turned in, sickled, hands unfold like lotus flowers, they fold low in deep second, their bodies elegant and strong, producing a mediative blur of calligraphy in motion.
The intensely trained dancers, who start the day in contemplation, move and interact as a natural element shifting and changing shape like a cloud passing through the sky. It’s captivating and absorbing in mind-clearing way.
Formosa humbly reveals the harmony that Lin has created by integrating elements from the East of internal martial arts and Qi Gong, together with the West of ballet and contemporary dance.
We can only hope that as Lin retires and hands the company over to the next generation of creators, that the essence that makes Cloud Gate so special continues to be honoured into the future.
You can read more about Cloud Gate’s unique training in our interview with dancer HUANG Li-chieh, who talks about how he prepares for his performances, why he dances and what makes the company special. Read more…
Reviewed on 9 May 2018 at Sadler’s Wells.