Cloud Gate Dance Theatre fuses Taiwan traditions and contemporary dance

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. (Photo by U Chen-Hsiang.)

Considered one of the finest contemporary dance companies in the world, Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s tour of the Pacific Northwest will be the company’s last visit with its founder and choreographer Lin Hwai-min, who will retire in 2019.

The company will perform at Meany Hall at the University of Washington March 22-24 in Seattle.

Lin established the company in 1973, during the era of martial law on Taiwan, when notable intellectuals, journalists and artists were strictly supervised and often punished with false charges of sedition against the authoritarian government. Taiwan martial law lasted from 1949 to 1987, during which time at least 140,000 residents were arrested and imprisoned and more than 3,000 executed, according to current government sources.

First known as a fiction writer, Lin trained in dance in the United States but most often focuses on themes reminiscent of his native Taiwan. His company gained acclaim as the longest standing contemporary dance troupe in Asia and has toured extensively in North America, Europe and other parts of the world.

The company also often gives free outdoor performances in rural areas for audiences in the thousands. He has earned many international dance awards and honorary doctorate degrees.

The Cloud Gate company has frequent engagements at the Next Wave Festival in New York, the Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Barbican Centre in London, the Moscow Chekhov International Theatre Festival, the Movimentos Festival (Germany) and the Internationales Tanzfest NRW directed by leading dance choreographer Pina Bausch.

The dance composition style of Cloud Gate is interdisciplinary and its dancers are trained in meditation, Qi Gong, martial arts, modern dance and ballet. The dances often are focused on the native land and people of Taiwan.

“Formosa,” the composition to be presented at Meany Theatre, will use large typographic calligraphy words to create visual landscapes for the dancers to interact with. They reflect names of mountains, rivers and villages of Taiwan. Formosa is the historic name of the island of Taiwan.

Cloud Gate’s previous visit to Seattle featured an unforgettable dance composition reflecting historic scenes and battles and a highly dramatic steady stream of rice from the ceiling, falling on the head of a monk standing under it for the entire performance.

According to Michelle Witt, Meany Center’s executive and artistic director, Cloud Gate’s Lin Hwai-min is widely considered Asia’s leading contemporary choreographer.

“This will likely be the last time to see him lead this extraordinary company,” she said. “We are truly honored to host this important performance, in which Lin Hwai-min reflects on his home, its abundant natural beauty, cultural traditions and its difficult political past.”

A pre-show discussion with director Lin Hwai-min will be held at 7:10 p.m. prior to each performance. The talks will be moderated by Michelle Witt of the Meany Center. Talks are free and open to ticket holders.

Tickets

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan performs at Meany Hall at the University of Washington Thursday-Saturday, March 22-24, 2018 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $52-60. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 206-543-4880, online, or in person at the ArtsUW Ticket Office. Meany Hall is located on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington.

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