Cloud Gate 2, the sister company of Taiwan’s internationally celebrated Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, brought its young dancers and choreographers from their island, regarded as rebel territory by China, to the Sadler’s stage and its sophisticated dance audience.
The dancers of Cloud Gate 2 train in Tai Chi, contemporary dance, martial arts as well as classical ballet. This mix of styles is reflected in their work which, in Taiwan, is often toured to fishing and rural villages, showing dance to those who would not ordinarily have access to a theatre.
The first piece, called Wicked Fish, mimics the interactions of a shoal of fish. Dressed in identical silver-grey the twelve dancers flitted across the stage through a most effective lighting design, of striped shadows created by Lee Vhien-chang. They moved together as an entity before breaking apart into duels and duets, to join together again.
The problem here was with the music. Shaar by Iannis Xenakis, it climaxed too soon to a high-pitched frenzy, which was maintained to a level of unusual discomfort for much of the piece.
The second part of the triple bill, The Wall, was created in 2009, but has a brand new resonance given that America is Taiwan’s most important friend and protector.
The choreography of mechanisation, of suggesting much movement in small spaces was very satisfactory. As were the whirling arm and leg movements, sourced, presumably from their training in martial arts. It was also unusual and pleasing to see female dancers pitched against one another in duels of contact, rather than the usual Western way of male and female.
The music by Michael Gordon held a strong beat, matching the mood of the piece. The final section of the evening was Beckoning. This was, perhaps, the most intriguing part of the show, in which the choreographer, Cheng Tsung-lung, used his knowledge of Taiwanese temple dances to create a playful mix of ancient and contemporary dance, perhaps reflecting the contradictions of the culture in Taiwan, which has become one of the world’s top producers of computer technology while also being a place of temples and carnivals in which divine puppets are paraded with
many of the population still being prepared to dress up as deities reflecting their ancient traditions.
The music by the Chung Cheng-da, Quiet Quartet, arranged by Blaire Ko, also reflected this mix in the culture, with the pleasing sounds of temple chimes being mixed with more modern influences.
The company of dancers is undoubtedly talented. There was some fine and interesting dancing and we must look forward to seeing how this young company further develops in the future.
The sister company of Taiwan’s internationally celebrated Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Cloud Gate 2 presents the country’s most talented young dancers and choreographers. This hotly anticipated triple bill is the first time Cloud Gate 2 has performed in the UK.
Wicked Fish sees the dancers mimic a shoal of fish, as puzzle-like choreography competes with its complex score, while The Wall examines ideas of protection and segregation, highlighting the physical and mental barriers built around us. Cheng Tsung-lung’s Beckoning focuses on how people can shift identities almost instantaneously and creates a mysterious zigzag of body language with movements distilled subtly from Taiwanese street-dancing rituals that give this abstract work a playful and poetic quality.
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R
21 – 23 Nov 2016