Friday, November 6, 2009

Folk dance today calls for new body language, says choreographer Lin Wen-chung

By Nancy T. Lu

Lin Wen-chung, the youngest of the three choreographers featured in the Taipei Folk Dance Theater’s “Dancing Portrait of Taiwan,” wants to make a statement regarding what folk dance is all about through his new choreography, “Reflections on the Lake.”

For somebody who spent seven years dancing with the company of outstanding American choreographer Bill T. Jones, he naturally loves modern dance. In fact, he has founded his own group, the W.C. Dance Company.

But having observed closely the growth and development of the Taipei Folk Dance Theater for many years, the 35-year-old Lin sees himself as finally ready to create his first folk dance choreography. As expected, the Taiwan dance world is watching him for he is the son of Tsai Li-hua, the founder and director of the Taipei Folk Dance Theater.

What indeed is Taiwanese folk dance? Taiwanese elements lend color to it. Tradition is something to value and be proud of, admits Lin. But there is a need for a new body language. Folk dance should not stay completely unchanged. It should be allowed to grow and evolve.

Lin, therefore, digs deep in his heart and opts for abstraction in his folk dance creation. He does not consciously work on symbolisms. He wants to share something coming deeply from his heart.

The dance moves in his piece are eloquent reminders of the traditional education of Chinese and Taiwanese women. They are not to approach and touch each other. Indeed they want to venture forth in the world but they end up hesitating because of inculcated restricting values.

Lin gets his dancers to move while confined to a square floor area. Sung “nanguan” music accompaniment enhances the Taiwanese flavor of the dance piece.

The dance poetry does not explode with emotions. In fact, Lin acknowledges that it is his “most understated” choreography. The beauty of the subtlety is what counts.

Hu Ming-shan’s “Tales of Marvels About Po Jieh” and Kuo Jui-lin’s “Community Bulletin” are the other two works being shown as part of the “Dancing Portrait of Taiwan.”

After presenting the works of the three choreographers at the Taipei Metropolitan Hall on November 6 to 8, the Taipei Folk Dance Theater will be featured at the Chiayi County Performing Arts Center on November 14. Photo above is courtesy of Taipei Folk Dance Theater.

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