Coming two days late into the ArtsCross project this year, I found myself in late stage of the rehearsal process. Steps or movement sequences seemed more or less set in most pieces. Choreographers and dancers were focusing on details of spacing, texture of movement, subtleties in transition, as well as emotional tones that would evoke imageries and imaginations. In this particular circumstance, what strikes me as the most beautiful aspect in watching these rehearsals is the flow of dance.

When I visited Taiwanese choreographer He Hsiao-mei’s rehearsal the second time, I heard her saying to some of the dancers, who were practicing movements involving weight shifting: “Let your weight drop naturally, then it will come out right.” Or “Pay attention to the dynamics and don’t think too much about the shape.” In the repeated effort to capture that “authentic” expression, I witnessed a microscopic section of dancers’ journey from inhabiting the movements to enlivening them.

In one of Su Wei-chia’s rehearsals, he instructed his all-female dancers to conjure their individual emotional journeys along the path they had to cross from upstage left to downstage right, the physical length they would travel in ten minutes on stage. I saw the five young women improvise as a group, intensely focused as a whole yet beautifully expressive as individuals, constantly evolving and transforming.

After seeing the first run-through last night, I found this year’s program extremely diverse and texturally rich. In many pieces, the dancers’ individualities, manifested through movement quality and dynamic subtlety, really shone through and enriched the choreographies. The addition of UK dancers this year as well as the rule that every dance must comprise dancers from all three locales, London, Beijing and Taipei, must have contributed in significant ways to the richness of the program.

Recalling our conversations during the seminars and meetings in the past few days, I came to a fuller understanding of the possible fruitful results of confronting the others, as long as we are willing to suspend our take-for-granted assumptions and seek common ground in negotiating the differences between us and them. In our efforts to understand the others, whether mentally, intellectually or kinesthetically, we may know our own limit and strength better and thus bring out more of our potentiality.

The Flow of Dance

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