Jiang Dong’s London Reflections 07: Seeing results
The huge round of applause which erupted from the audience seats where we were sitting made us feel very moved about the outcomes from the ArtsCross project. The 2013 London ArtsCross performance, which had just come to an end at London’s The Place theatre, had achieved immense success, thanks to the joint efforts of the choreographers and dancers. Although the seats in this venue were relatively few, the sound of the audience, packed into the space, was like thunder. During the post-performance discussion, members of the audience said that they found it hard to believe that this amazing performance was the result of just three weeks of work.
This kind of achievement does not come easily! I was particularly touched when I witnessed the nine 10-minute dance works, each displaying their own distinct characteristics, with the different choreographers using their own special tricks to impress the audience. The nine choreographers from Beijing, Taipei and London pursued their dance dreams with integrity. Their persistence and their innovative approaches were manifested on the ArtsCross stage in a brilliant evening of performance.
Firing the first shot was Tung I-Fen‘s Sound of Numbers. She used numbers as a starting point, implanting number-related imagery into her dance movements and compositions. At the point when the performers began shouting out numbers in different languages, the extraordinary effect produced an aesthetic chemical reaction. Sounds and dance movements combined together, producing a unique imagery and sensation. Sets of incredible moves arrived one after another, immediately transforming the small dark stage into a sea of light and energy.
This was closely followed by Walk, from the mainland choreographer Zeng Huanxing. Seeking to express a sense of deep reflection on the concept of “leaving home”, Zeng made use of three sections of imagery to represent our never-ending search for a place where the soul can take rest. The symbolic use of a red sandbag, and the imagery of China which this produced, were of profound significance. As the third section of Schubert began playing, accompanying the Tai Chi infused dance movements of the Taiwanese male dancer Leung Kim-Fung (originally from Hong Kong), a warm sensation immediately crept into our bodies, and we felt a keen sense of nostalgia.
The work, No Lander, from the Italian choreographer Riccardo Buscarini, representing London, made use of five male dancers. The dance contained various symbolic images, realistically communicating the feeling of disorientation of those in helpless situations. It asked an urgent question: when one casts off and leaves one’s home port, where is one’s final destination? This forthright expression, which tied in closely with the theme of this year’s ArtsCross ensured that the unforgettable movements and lively dance arrangements created by Buscarini possessed an infectiousness that was at the same time extremely genuine and highly touching.
Mask, by mainland choreographer Guo Lei took an alternative approach. In a stroke of originality, he made use of Nuo opera masks from Nanfeng in Jiangxi Province, incorporating Nuo opera arrangements into his performance. This had a powerful effect, and attracted the attention of almost all the international academics and audience members. In incorporating such distinctive masks and such exaggerated movements into a dance work, and through engaging in a profound analysis of the relationship between man and mask, the values expressed by the “Chinese-style” dance won the recognition of the Western audiences.
Free Steps, from the Taiwanese choreographer Su Wei-Chia, featured five female performers. The dancers in this piece used slow free dance steps, progressing diagonally across the stage from the stage exit towards the stage entrance at the front of the stage. This movement lasted for the duration of the dance. The five female dancers danced freely, but nevertheless adhered to the same principles of movement. The resulting creation was extremely beautiful, like a slowly changing cloud, or a swaying coral reef… the resulting creation was astoundingly beautiful.
While the origin of the piece’s name was unclear, My Dear No. 8, from Taiwanese choreographer Ho Hsiao-Mei used six dancers to create a variety of scenes while donning and taking off trench coats. She manipulated the relationship between the empty and the real in a very interesting manner, with a kind of tension rich in dramatic sense. Through this simple approach, she was able to expose the perspective shifts between the “self” and the “non-self”, the “self” and the “other”. This highly watchable, highly enjoyable arrangement demonstrated the abilities and artistic creativity of the choreographer.
German choreographer, Vera Tussing, representing London, created a piece called Moving Relations: Research. During her piece, she used a research perspective to arrange the dancers and manage the relationships between them, particularly emphasizing the communion between the dancers and the audience. In managing the relationships between dancers, she used a lot of experimental approaches, creating an intriguing connection between the six dancers. By avoiding special clothing and not using music to accompany the dance, she emphasized the experimental nature of the work.
The Vietnamese-American choreographer, Dam Van Huynh, also representing London, also used a title for his creation, Gloves, which had little connection to its content. He also exhibited a spirit of experimentalism in his use of music. During rehearsals, he didn’t use any music, but when it came to the performance, he invited an electronic musician to DJ live. The fortuitous connections which arose between dance and music became a highlight of this work. He also made use of some dynamic movements, such as swapping items of clothing and smelling armpits, generating a lot of laughs.
The final work was mainland choreographer Zhao Liang’s Infinite connections. He used a rubber band to tightly link the six dancers together. Linked by this rubber band, the six dancers, who obviously came from different social backgrounds and possessed different sets of experiences, were able to create a variety of entangled forms and many indescribable connections. Just at the point when the dance was coming to an end, that rubber band, which had been connecting them together, broke. An indescribable sense of shock washed over the audience, surprising everybody.
It is no exaggeration to say that the nine pieces which the choreographers created for ArtsCross were works which came from the heart. On the cosmopolitan London stage, they played off one another and each demonstrated their brilliance, at the same time lighting up the 2013 London ArtsCross project. These works constituted the most outstanding pieces from this year’s ArtsCross project.