Tuesday, August 6, 2013

“Chasing the Wind Turning” explores gracefully human courage and spirituality

Taiwanese choreographer Liou Shaw-lu’s creative process for his new choreography titled “Chasing the Wind Turning” finds inspiring spark in the verses of ancient Chinese poet Tao Yuan-ming. Tao’s poetry goes: “Life has neither root nor stalk. Like dust in the air, life takes off, chasing the wind in changing directions. It touches ground to undergo bonding and brotherhood for reasons other than blood link.”

With such thoughts in mind, Liou – artistic director of the Taipei Dance Circle - gets his dancers, all covered with baby oil, to move gracefully unobstructed. They come together or they separate. Clash and reconciliation are inevitable in their union and togetherness. Likewise separation brings about loneliness and yearning. Still, the view of the world is generally filled with awe and amazement. In fact, the universe is full of marvel, according to Liou.

The piece opens with “Prelude With the Nautilus.” Here the dancers with spiral chambered shells as heralding instruments invite all to participate in a thanksgiving ritual. Succeeding dance segments revolve around themes like “Linear Effect,” “Headstand,” “Crossover,” “Freeing from Pressure,” “Forcing, Pressing and Pushing Out,” “Floating,” “Final Song of the Nautilus” and “Dark Fragrance.”

Composer Colin Offord’s ability to bring nature into his music moves Liou. Ho Xun-tian’s use of the ethnic Jew’s harp likewise belongs in a choreography underlining Liou’s remarkable inclination towards the spiritual. Hsu Sung-ren’s music highlights a culminating world of joy and harmony in the choreography. It is precisely on this soothing note that the dance characterized earlier largely by tension and pressure ends finally.

“I frequently meander close to the all-too-familiar river world,” said Liou. “There I find the river of my life. I am emotionally moved by the long and flowing river. It makes me feel the wonder of the universe, pulling me into a deep and intimate world of love. All of a sudden, I am transformed into a seed, lightly carried by the wind, smoothly beginning to sprout into a young plant shoot, grow and develop into a beautiful flower. Finally, the process of taking in the essential life-giving elements of wind, rain, sun and soil bears fruit. Life goes on.”

Liou’s dance piece calls attention to a growing spirituality in his outlook on life. The clear self-confidence gives rise to refinement. At the same time, there is an evolving maturity to indicate his having come a long way in overcoming episodes of physical struggles in life. Dancers may seem on the verge of falling. But they remain steadfast and strong. The picture is sometimes perfect. But sometimes it is not. The suspense in the onlookers builds up. Liou tells a courageous story with a happy ending.

The Taipei Dance Circle’s performances of “Chasing the Wind Turning” are lined up at the Experimental Theater of the National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center in Taipei at 7:30 p.m. on August 22 to 24 and at 2:30 p.m. on August 24 and 25. Another performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. on November 16 at the Experimental Theater of the Chiayi County Performing Arts Center at 265 Chienkuo Road, Sec. 2, Minhsiung Village, Chiayi County.

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