Cloud Gate dance troupe brings artistry to NY

Updated: 2011-10-14 10:44

By Sun Ye (China Daily)

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NEW YORK - Modern dance maestro Martha Graham once famously remarked, "Dance is the hidden language of the soul."

Lucky for US audiences, from now through early November, there is a chance to become acquainted with a body language once "unthinkable" to the Western world because it fully reveals a refined oriental soul.

Cloud Gate Dance Theater, which has distinguished itself artistically so much in the past 30 years that an asteroid recently was named after it, has brought its latest project Water Stains on the Wall to the states for its overseas premiere.

Cloud Gate dance troupe brings artistry to NY

Originally a metaphor between two legendary Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) calligraphers, the image of water stains evokes the essence of supreme beauty in the Chinese lens -"natural and rid of all artificial elements", renowned choreographer Lin Hwai-min stated in a news release. "For years, I was drawn to the concept."

His brewed understanding finally crystalized last year in a dance that uses many of the same techniques fine calligraphy calls for - smoothing out your breath("For me, easy breath means beauty.")and acting in a roundabout, cursive way. "Chinese culture is all about circles, even in martial arts, you whirl out your punch." The lean and wrinkled 62-year-old considered these qualities distinctive from the "straight and hard line" Western dance.

Solid lower-body movements and circulated motions are the basic rules for the troupe's expressions of traditional Chinese culture.

The usage, however, is adventurous, as the performers dance on a tilted multi-media screen of splashing ink. The slope allows the dancers to look "pasted" on the spiraling marks. "And they're like snakes, and clouds, and wind."

Lin also confessed that he's worried about the height. "At the end of the stage, the spread of the screen would measure two to three feet above ground. It's like wearing a pair of funny shoes, one a high heel and the other a flat. It invites injuries."

But the crew takes the risk daily. Their first two performances on Oct 6 and 7 in Chapel Hill, NC were safe and drew raves.

In New York, the dance theater is headlining Brooklyn Academy of Music's (BAM) Next Wave Festival in celebration of the institution's 150th anniversary. Lin is also scheduled to hold an Iconic Artist talk to mark the moment.

Joseph Welillo, BAM's executive producer, was first introduced to Cloud Gate's "exceptional artistry" in the early 1990s. Looking back at their past associations, Welillo said that "there is no other Asian dance group like Cloud Gate. It's so special. I think we have a love affair now."

After Cloud Gate's week-long stay in New York, the dance company will head toward Ann Arbor, Mich, Chicago and San Antonio before they make their (almost) annual sojourn to London.

China Daily