Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cloud Gate Dance Theater’s “Cursive II” pulls audience into void and calm of Zen philosophy

By Nancy T. Lu

The unpainted area or blank space in Chinese art such as calligraphy symbolizes the something which is not nothing. In fact, it suggests the fascinating and deep void in Zen philosophy.

To get choreographer Lin Hwai-min to talk about calligraphy-inspired “Cursive II” is to invite him to dwell on the aesthetics of Chinese brushwork and, quickly from there, proceed to focus on Zen philosophy.

Zest and vitality are what characterize Taiwan and the people. But these are the very traits which drive Lin to turn to the quiet and the calm in his choreography.

If forms and lines in Chinese calligraphy are appreciated for themselves, the dancers of the Cloud Gate Dance Theater in “Cursive II” invite similar response from spectators. Their smallest moves on the dance stage are the richest in nuances and details, according to Lin.

Lin’s recollections of his youth include how his parents filled up the ancestral family home with porcelain souvenirs from their student days in Japan. The crackle of the glaze on the ornamental chinaware from Kyoto with a history of Tang Dynasty cultural influence has since then gone on to inspire recreation into the exquisitely simple and beautiful backdrop for “Cursive II.”

John Cage’s minimalist music, which is used in “Cursive II,” gives away the composer’s study and love of the Zen philosophy. Modern dance choreographer Lin and contemporary musician Cage end up crisscrossing cultures to create the powerfully moving “Cursive II.”

"Cursive II” is the second part of “Cursive: A Trilogy.” It follows “Cursive” and precedes “Wild Cursive.” It happens to be Lin’s favorite.

“Cursive II” will be staged at the National Theater in Taipei from September 9 to 13. “Wild Cursive” will be presented from September 16 to 20. “Cursive” was performed from September 2 to 6. Lin will hold a dialogue with the public after the staging of “Cursive II” on September 10 and “Wild Cursive” on September 17.

Photo shown above was taken by this writer during a sneak preview of "Cursive II."

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