Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lin Lee-chen’s new choreography to dance out relationship of man, spirit and deity

By Nancy T. Lu

Dance talents working each day under choreographer Lin Lee-chen at the Taiwan Human Rights Memorial compound in Taipei are fleshing out the dance poetry that is to tell the tale of “Song of Pensive Beholding (Chants de la destinee).” The strength and power of the quiet and calm are inviting reflection.

The new piece of choreography is about life, step by step depicting man’s internal struggles between two forces, not necessarily representing good and evil, explained Lin, artistic director of the Legend Lin Dance Theater (Wougow in Chinese). The whole dance drama with percussion instruments pounding the rhythms of life is tied up with nature, according to her.

Lin’s probing vision with ancient cultures coming into play brings suggestions of two eagles, creatures with talons from legends and folklores, protecting their respective domains from two mountain peaks. Between the two mountains flows a river. Will the current take its natural course to nurture the land? Or will it wreak havoc because of man’s destructive ways against Mother Earth, turning into a river of tears?

“My first production for Legend Lin Dance Theater `Legend: Mirrors of Life’ had to do with the relationship between man and spirit,” said Lin. “My next piece, `Anthem to the Fading Flowers (Hymne aux fleurs qui passent)’ turned to the relationship between man and deity. ‘Song of Pensive Beholding (Chants de la destinee)’ brings man, spirit and deity together.”

Lin, who became 60 only on August 20, will turn to ceremonial elements like stone, wind, water, fire and even straw during the staging of her new work. There will be a suggestion of the Taoist rite as seen in the use of incoherent chant.

The Legend Lin Dance Theatre has been one of Taiwan’s leading contemporary dance companies to have found acclaim on the world stage. Since its founding in 1995, the group has developed large-scale and often slow-paced dance dramas inspired by traditional religious rituals and ceremonial rites in Taiwan, evoking the ever-changing seasons and celebrating the rhythms of nature and life.

In 1998, the Legend Lin Dance Theater brought “Legend: Mirrors of Life” to the Festival d’Avignon in France, making a big impact. “Anthem to the Fading Flowers (Hymne aux fleurs qui passent)” premiered in France in 1998 and then toured other countries in Europe with great success.

“Song of Pensive Beholding (Chants de la destinee)” will be staged from December 18 to 20 at the National Theater in Taipei. The Legend Lin Dance Theater has already received an invitation to bring the dance to the Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France, next year. From there, the production will tour Europe.

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