This year, London audiences get to enjoy two tastes of Taiwan as both sides of Cloud Gate will be visiting: the ever popular Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集), and it’s younger, lively cousin, Cloud Gate 2 (雲門2).
Cloud Gate Dance Theatre will dance Songs of the Wanderers (流浪者之歌) at Sadler’s Wells (May 4-7), and then at the Birmingham Hippodrome (May 10-11, as part of the International Dance Festival Birmingham). Set to soulful Georgian folk songs sung by the Rustavi Choir, the work is a visually stunning 90-minute anthem in sound and movement to spiritual pilgrimage. Sadly, plans to bring the Choir to perform live alongside the dancers didn’t come to fruition, but Songs of the Wanderers remains a startlingly powerful work as Lin Hwai-min and the dancers create a world of intense reverence. It’s a world that is undoubtedly Asian, yet also one that has powerful relevance far beyond that continent, all brought to life on a set that includes no less than 3½ tons of shimmering golden grains of rice. Lin often speaks of ‘retiring’ his older works, so this may be the last chance to see the piece; don’t miss it.
Later this year London also gets its first sight of Cloud Gate 2. The company was formed back in 1999 primarily to continue Cloud Gate’s work in schools, colleges and local communities in Taiwan, something Cloud Gate Dance Theatre was finding difficult to fulfil with its increasing overseas demands.
While still undoubtedly Taiwanese, with the strong training of that country very much in evidence, Cloud Gate 2 offers a very different aesthetic and energy. Very popular at home where it’s annual Spring Riot tour is always looked forward to, Cloud Gate 2 is not a junior company there to prepare dancers for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and does not dance Lin Hwai-min’s works. Rather it focuses on dance by younger Taiwanese choreographers. Cloud Gate 2 ventures abroad only occasionally, so it’s something of a coup that they will be at Sadler’s Wells from November 21-23; the only overseas visit for the company this year.
For its UK debut, the vibrant company will dance Huang Yi’s (黃翊) Wicked Fish (流魚), a fast-paced, fluid piece with some amazing partnering and in which the dancers appear as if fish in a swirling current (music by Iannis Xenakis); artistic director Cheng Tsung-lung’s (鄭宗龍) dark, powerful and increasingly complex The Wall (牆), performed to the equally threatening Weather One by Michael Gordon); and Cheng’s popular 2015 piece, Beckoning (來), which is inspired by the street dancing of Taoist temple parades. Bright and colourful, it’s set to a score by Chung Cheng-da (鍾成達) and Quiet Quartet (靜謐時光), arranged by Blaire Ko (柯智豪).
Immediately prior to London, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre can be seen in Paris and Lyon with Rice (稻禾). After their UK visit, the company flies to St Petersburg, Moscow and Ekaterinburg with White Water (白水) and Dust (微塵). The double bill will also be seen at the outdoor performances back home in Taiwan in July. September sees a tour of China with Moon Water (水月), which will also be danced at the company’s home theatre in Tamsui, Taiwan in November.
For more about Songs of the Wanderers, click here.
For details and tickets for Sadler’s Wells, visit www.sadlerswells.com.
For the International Dance Festival Birmingham performances at the Birmingham Hippodrome, visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com.
SeeingDance will be covering Cloud Gate 2’s Spring Riot 2016 in Taipei in late March.
Cloud Gate 2 tickets for London are not yet available, but for more about Wicked Fish and The Wall, click here.