Umay Theater, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Taipei
Programme C – Create Together, Dance Together
March 19, 2020
Now in its third year, the CoDance Festival (相遇舞蹈節), curated by Sun-Shier Dance Theatre (為三十舞蹈劇場) and Wu Pi-Jung (吳碧容) in collaboration with Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園), has quickly established itself as an important weekend in Taipei’s dance calendar. It aims to help the development of choreographers and present Taiwanese new contemporary dance in all its diversity.
The pieces shown are all no more than 30 minutes long. Some are totally fresh, CoDance providing a chance to develop ideas or try new things out. Some are extensions of or developments from existing works. It has become a valuable fixture in Taipei’s dance scene; a festival that is truly varied in styles and approach.
With the COVID-19 situation, this year’s edition had huge question marks over it. However, thanks to much hard work by Sun-Shier artistic director Chang Hsiu-ping (張秀萍) and with many special arrangements in place (seating capacity reduced significantly so there was more space between people, temperatures taken, travel details logged, face masks worn, hands sanitized, photo of the audience taken pre-show), go ahead it did.
Programme C, Create Together Dance Together (共舞，共感，共創造) got the festival off to a highly appropriate start, given the current emergency, with the 10-minute Wash Hands Training Course (洗手訓練班) by Chang. Danced by a multi-age, largely community cast, it featured much gesture-driven sequences triggered initially by the verb and instructions from the choreographer. Ideas and terms were deconstructed and reconstructed to make new interpretations and movement. Allusions to showering, carrying water in the hands appeared alongside the hand washing of the title. The message may have been serious but it was delivered very lightly, and very colourfully, thanks to the dancers’ rainbow of costumes.
One of the Attempts about Dance (有關舞的嘗試之一) by Lai Szu-ying (賴思穎) was quietly compelling. Initially almost always in contact in some way, the trio of Wang Hsiu-shan (汪秀珊), Hsu Shu-chuan (許書銓) and Chen Kai-yun (陳楷云) floated gracefully as if weightless in a dance of rise and fall; twist, curve and bend; reach and stretch. Their closeness somehow seemed to magnify their energy. Moments of stillness had a particular intensity, as did an instant when a hand is drawn to one of two low hanging light bulbs like a moth is drawn to a lamp. Contrast comes later when one dancer splits from the other two.
Sun-Shier Dance Theatre themselves took to the stage for the closing work of the evening, The Urge to Soar (非飛人) by Lin Yi-chieh (林依潔). An extension of the ideas seen in her CoDance 2019 offering, it’s a thirty-minute gem.
Again, we have bungees that extend the movement possibilities and qualities. It allows the body to be as light as a feather and to soar. And there is plenty of that, especially in the opening that sees Su Chia-hsien (蘇家賢) in mid-air on a bungee. He sometimes pauses, held by Chang Chi-wu (張琪武) as if walking on air. Most impressively, though, he circles, arms spread wide like a huge bird riding a thermal.
The bungees could easily have been a gimmick, a device to facilitate tricks, but Lin never stoops to just that. The Urge to Soar is a deeply thoughtful piece. Lin’s programme notes refer to the need to catch the fleeting moments in life. That comes as Su is joined by others, paused in mid-air in a variety of surreal, almost ghostly poses. There’s a lady in a stunning red felt hat, another apparently looking at her cellphone, and a third holding a book and a mug. It is very enigmatic. As Su adjusts their poses, making the imperfect perfect, the feeling is very much one of figures and captured moments from his past. Spirits, perhaps. As the work gets more complex, he is later assaulted by the figures, caught in a vortex of energy as they surround him. It really was most engaging. A super way to end a super evening.