Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bravo! to David Michalek for “Slow Dancing”

By Nancy T. Lu

Dancing never looked so amazingly slow but absolutely mesmerizing. The unfolding details as each 10-minute footage on a dancer ran at hyper-slow speed in the square in front of the Chung Shan Hall in Taipei were incredible.

The famous subjects from the international dance world ranged in age from 14 to 90. Just imagine their larger-than-life slow-moving physical shapes and forms. There was even a pregnant dancer. Another performer who went about her demanding and exhausting routine looked physically like she could make a perfect Botero model.

Most of the shining artists, including New York City Ballet’s principal dancer and Michalek’s wife Wendy Whelan, bared the breathtaking beauty of their silhouettes, doing what they were best at for five seconds for the 1,000-frame-per-second, high-definition, high-speed camera of David Michalek during the shooting in New York.

And so arms flailed gracefully and limbs flew as high as imaginable, keeping classical lines intact and near-perfect. A hip-hop dance expert just went on spinning on his head like a swivel chair. A Dervish-dancer was also right there, whirling in an ecstatic trance.

Portrait artist Michalek first presented his “Slow Dancing” on triptych screens 50 feet high and 40 feet wide at the Lincoln Center in New York in the summer of 2007. This meant three of the 43 featured dance artists were in the spotlight at any given time. Michalek’s project went on tour afterwards, finally arriving in Taipei for open-air screening from August 21 to September 3. Michalek's subjects had increased to 50 dancers by the time the rare show got to Taipei. Taiwan's Sheu Fang-yu and Wu Kuo-hsing were among the admirable talents featured.

The fantastic visual treat offered as part of the ongoing 2009 Taipei Arts Festival left spectators in Taipei gaping in awe if not gasping, “Wow!!!”

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