Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nanquan catches up with modern dance or is it vice versa? Find out from WC Dance

By Nancy T. Lu

When young choreographer Lin Wen-chung of WC Dance drops Bach or Tchaikovsky in favor of traditional “nanquan” in his dance creation, there is reason to wonder why. In fact, Lin’s newest piece titled “Small Nanquan” leaves room for reflection.

Exposure to Tsai Hsiao-yueh’s acclaimed recorded singing of the most refined ancient Chinese music called “nanquan” made a big impact on choreographer Lin Wen-chung back in 2008.

“Tsai Hsiao-yueh really takes me to a different realm,” recalled the fascinated Lin. The new experience moved the excited Lin to set out to learn and study “nanquan.” He approached the Hantang Yuefu ensemble as well as Wang Xin Xin in his journey of discovery about “nanquan.”.

Lin wanted very much an encounter with the aging national treasure Tsai Hsiao-yueh herself. But to his chagrin, he heard about her flight to a Southeast Asian country allegedly to seek refuge after her son’s debt collectors started harassing her.

In choreographing “Small Nanquan,” Lin hoped to take his young dancers with him through a very interesting learning process involving “nanquan” music and drama gesture.

“There is something to be said about learning from the old and traditional,” he pointed out. “It can be fun.”

“Nanquan” and modern dance moves crisscross and clash in “Small Nanquan.” The pacing and the rhythm can vary, even turning playful in bridging difference in time and space. The company dancers who sing along during rehearsals end up simply catching their breath. “Nanquan” musicians, however, will provide live music during the actual performances.

Modern dance encourages completely outward expression of emotions. “Nanquan” singing and drama dwell on deep feelings but with quiet restraint, leaving ample room for reflection.

The dancers of WC Dance led by Lin himself have been absorbing the whole “nanquan” experience, feeling enriched along the way.

The public is invited to find out for themselves the relevance of “nanquan” in modern everyday life.

“Small Nanquan” will be presented at the Experimental Theater in Taipei at 7:30 p.m. on May 20 and 21 as well as at 2:30 p.m. on May 21 and 22.

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