Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan's production is based in calligraphy. The concept, choreography and set are all by Lin Hwai-min and the entire work is set to the ethereal music of Toshio Hosokawa. A fusion of traditional and modern sounds. A large, white, square stage, raked towards the audience, is completely surrounded by black and used as both the performance area and to represent a blank sheet of rice paper on which the calligrapher will write.
The 'calligrapher' is Ethan Wang, whose ever changing design is projected onto the white surface, complemented by Lulu W. L. Lee's lighting plot. One can see the sort of ink wash landscapes within the abstract shapes and cloud patterns. Adding to the visual interest of the work are Lin Ching-Ju's flowing costumes, loose fitting, lightweight white trousers over which are diaphanous strips of material as a skirt.
The combination of the projected images, ink wash shapes that transit into cloud formations, drifts of smoke and other evocative patterns, the flowing costumes and the graceful, fluid motions of the dancers creates a work of infinite grace and beauty.
The influences of their training in chi kung, internal martial arts, contemporary dance and meditation show in the performance of the ten female and seven male dancers, all of whom are incredibly fit and flexible. Some sections are in extremely slow motion, exhibiting amazing balance and concentration. Other sections have faster movement, bringing into play the flowing garments to make the dancers appear as though floating above the stage. The techniques used in this piece are myriad.
Throughout, there are references to calligraphy in the flowing movements of the dancers, reflecting the sweeping brush strokes of the master calligrapher, as well as momentary poses, suggesting the shapes of the Chinese writing characters.
This performance was a sheer delight of the highest aesthetics and immense involvement, the audience almost silent from start to finish, watching intently the whole time. Hurry to catch this one if you can still get a ticket.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: to Sun 18th March 2012
Tickets: $30 to $89
Bookings: BASS 131 246, BASS outlets, or online