Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Song of the Wanderers

Review in Issue 11-2 | Summer 1999

It is shameful that until now Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Asia’s leading contemporary dance theatre company (founded in 1973), has never performed in London. Their work is life affirming and much needed in our chaotic metropolis.

Song of the Wanderers begins with a silent monk who stands in mesmerising stillness with his hands clasped in prayer, as what eventually becomes three tons of rice rains steadily onto his head. The rice, dyed yellow, creates a stunning background of desert and heat and is infused with sexual energy as fourteen dancers roll and throw themselves around in it, conjuring a plethora of elemental images. Rhythmical and beautiful, the choreography combines a compelling mixture of childlike pleasure with adult pain and passion; fusing Graham technique, classical ballet, Tai Chi and Chinese Opera with the company’s own simultaneously tortured and light brand of movement.

Cloud Gate Theatre is very much an ensemble company and yet every dancer’s individuality is expressed with unpretentious and often erotic simplicity. The dancers perform a ritual of power exchange; with huge branches they rhythmically play out the battle of the sexes and with bowls of fire they conjure the power of nature. Whether you are attuned to it or not, the path to enlightenment is a universal journey and the energy of Zen does indeed course through each of the dancer’s veins. Founder Lin Hwai-Min, however, is making no judgements. It is the London audience that gives the monk, who stands silent and still for the duration of the performance, the biggest applause.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-2
p. 22