In the 16th century, gazing out from the decks of ships off the coast of Southern China, Portuguese sailors saw it: a great green mass, thick with mountains and trees, rising from the sea. “Formosa!” they exclaimed—“beautiful!”—anointing the verdant place that would come to be known as Taiwan.
Using gesture, script, song and other elements from the island as raw material, Lin and dancers create a lustrous, transfigured sphere in which only the universal remains— a playground of love and life, mediated by tragedy, hope, and rebirth.
Recorded music by award-winning indigenous singer Sangpuy serves as the soundtrack as the dancers stomp, sway, dash, and dart. With unparalleled grace, they mingle in intimations of community, making tribal ritual and urban bustle seem as one.
Luminous projected images of Chinese character typefaces, interlocked and overlapped, provide the stunning visual backdrop. Devoid of specific meanings, they merge in teeming thickets to evoke a host of imagery: mountains and rivers, earthquakes and tsunamis, ancient inscriptions, a black sun. They seem to imply writing as a precarious vehicle for memories, which blur and recombine at the whim of history’s wind.
At the work’s end, a blue sea appears amid the characters only to wash them away in the waves. The ocean rages. The dancers exit. The stage turns to a vacuum of white.
About Cloud Gate
Phenomenally acclaimed both at home and on their international tours, Cloud Gate was the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese speaking community. Directed by the celebrated choreographer Lin Hwai-Min, they are known for transforming ancient aesthetics into thrillingly original performances that draw on diverse disciplines, and for their visually spectacular sets.
Lin Hwai-min has moved audiences in Taiwan and major cities of the West through his masterpieces rooted in Asian cultures yet vibrating with contemporary resonance. In 2013, he followed in the footsteps of Martha Graham and Pina Bausch to win the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Dance Festival, the “Nobel Prize of modern dance”.
In what will be Lin’s last creation for the company as artistic director, this love letter to Taiwan is deeply personal, poetic and full of his signature style: intense, meditative tai chi set against explosive jumps and stomps.
“When you’re talking about Cloud Gate, magic is not too strong a word” TIME OUT
“A stunning new work…mesmerising” Los Angeles Times on Formosa
Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan — Formosa.
Sadler Wells Theatre, May 9 -12.
Click here for tickets and further information.