September 18, 2015
Breath and rhythm tie the movement to the meditative visuals projected behind Cloud Gate Dance Company’s performance of RICE. In one of the most effective passages, a man and woman couple, layering of one body over the other in a touching embrace. Flexed feet reach out and connect the two bodies before they shift into parallel planes suggesting the union of western contemporary dance forms with Taiwanese classical martial arts as well as the eternal pollination of rice.
A cyclical work, Rice traces the growth cycle of Taiwan’s major agricultural product. Projected on the screen and stage are images by video artist Howell Hao-jan Chang of lush green rice patties bathed in water, struck by fire or waving gracefully in the wind. The dancers express nature’s moods through their movements—hopping wildly in irregular lines, flowing forward with swaying bamboo Bataan sticks, or spinning in quick circles.
At one point, western opera seeps into the soundtrack of Hakka folk songs jarring the piece’s organic flow. Finely tuned, dedicated dancers fling themselves into the work created in 2013 by the founding director and choreographer Lin Hwai-min. Now in its 43rd year, the company has established an important position for modern dance in Taiwan, and all it’s new dance tributaries.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis