Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan is going through a period of transition. Its founder and veteran artistic director, Lin Hwai-min, steps down later this year, making way for Cheng Tsung-lung.
The programme the company is bringing to Sadler’s Wells this year will perhaps give us a chance to assess how smooth that transition is likely to be, as each of the two men signs one of the programme’s two UK premieres.
Lin’s Dust uses Shostakovich’s response to the carpet bombing of Dresden towards the end of World War II as the inspiration for his own requiem for the 20th century.
Dancers dressed in sombre colours alternately emerge from, and are subsumed into, the thick smoke that envelops the stage, finding brief support in human clusters before being slowly swallowed by the smoke.
By contrast – and on this description a more uplifting contrast is needed – Cheng’s 13 Tongues is based on his memories of the sights and sounds of the street, where he was once a vendor, and merges them with the tales of the storyteller Thirteen Tongues.
Here we are drawn into a world of gods and spirits as contained in Taiwanese folk tales, to a complex and evocative soundscape that includes a hand bell and electronic music, Japanese nakashi tunes and Taiwanese folk songs.
There’s a mystical element to the work, as the dancers chant mysterious mantras and appear to inhabit a trance state typical of shamans.
Under bright lights, the fluorescent patterns on the dancers’ costumes flow through space and create the illusion of wandering spirits.
Cloud Dance Theatre of Taiwan takes its name from the oldest known dance in China, Cloud Dance, which Lin Hwai-min adopted when he founded the company in 1973. The idea was to create a harmonious blend of contemporary movement and Asian tradition, with the dancers trained in meditation and martial arts, as well as ballet and contemporary dance.
Their unique identity, exotic yet relatable, makes Cloud Dance Theatre of Taiwan a firm favourite with Sadler’s Wells audiences. The company last visited the north London dance house in 2018 with Formosa, its acclaimed paean to the island of Taiwan.
|What||Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Sadler's Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
26 Feb 20 – 29 Feb 20, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 50 mins inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book|