Unknown   Dr. LIU Feng-shueh   Tang Dynasty reconstructions

After a week of intensive academics seminars, group discussion, and of course, observations in the studios with various choreographers and dancers involved in this 2013 ArtsCross London project, I am drawn to the concept of home/elsewhere—the rich theme for this year.

Yesterday, some choreographers shared their thoughts regarding to this topic.  Later our group furthered the conversation, with engaging talk about our own hometowns—referring to where we were born and brought up, as well as the “homes” in our heart/mind.  (Thanks to Zeng Huanxin’s comments, and Martin Welton’s introduction of a dinner party game of a similar nature.)

Often, due to nostalgia, and perhaps other reasons, our better memories of home pops up when we are away from home for a period of time.

After the run-through last evening, Kenny Leung–the final male soloist in Zeng’s piece dancing to Schubert’s “Ave Maria” music–also shared his own thoughts about missing home while interpreting the work.  After all, Kenny is from Hong Kong, and having spent a few years in Taiwan studying at TNUA for his MFA in Dance Performance, he expressed his homesickness through this dance.

This also led me to think about choreographer Liu Feng-shueh, artistic director of Neo-Classic Dance Company from Taiwan. We saw some images of her reconstruction work from Tang Dynasty in one of our seminars few days ago.  I recall Jiang Dong mentioning how her work was further reinforced through Dr. Liu’s visit to Szechuan after the opening up of travels to China since the 1990s for residents from Taiwan.

However, Liu had previously conducted research in Japan on Gagaku—since it is similar to the music tradition from Tang Dynasty and well preserved by the Japanese.  Later, during her Ph.D. studies in UK’s Laban Centre (with further research with her advisor from Cambridge University), she was able to locate further information about Tang music to reconstruct her dances. This sense of mission to reach back to one’s past, as she is originally from China’s northeastern province of Heilungjaing bordering Russia, plays an important role in her repertoire.

But on the other hand, having arrived in Taiwan after World War II, Liu’s interest in the indigenous dances from Taiwan’s aboriginal communities is another main feature of her contemporary creations.  In fact, to differentiate, she has two dance companies under her name: 1) Neo-Classic Dance Company, which presents her new choreographies based on modern dance aesthetics, often with a theme and concern inspired by indigenous cultures from Taiwan; and 2) the Tang Music and Dance Ensemble, which focuses on reconstructing Tang Dynasty dances. Such double concerns–as drawn from her home of origin in China, and her later adopted home in Taiwan – reflects an interesting topic of home/elsewhere which I may explore further in the coming days of this ArtsCross London 2013 Project.


“Home” is where the heart is…

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