Float like a butterfly

Found a new adjective for myself — shambolic. Fits comfortably, not too snug.

And after that solitary tear from Maxim Vengerov’s concert in HK many a year back (2001, was it?), I shed another hot tear on Wednesday night thanks to a long-awaited encounter with the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. It was a greatest hits sort of thing, and did a tremendous job of being an appetiser — I can hardly wait for more. Having great seats didn’t hurt — I was five rows away from the choreographer, Lin Hwai-min! How does one handle being a genius?

At long last, I devoured Cloud Gate’s abstraction of Tale of the White Serpent; it was everything I hoped it would be, and really more. I truly comprehend the phrase “come to life onstage” now. I was introduced to a 1950s Taiwanese song celebrating the charms of cigarettes and wine. I was bestowed with a feast of elegant colours and melancholic decadence from The Dream of the Red Chamber, Cloud Gate style. I surfed the thin reflective line between enlightenment and dozing off with Moon Water.

And finally, finally, finally I experienced heartbreak and joy all in one dance depicting the agonies and ecstasies of 17th century immigrants to Taiwan, preceded by a folk song that shot straight to the core of time. With the most minimal, effective use of props and lighting — actually a single sheet of cloth — the malevolent waves of the Straits of Taiwan and the rickety ship the immigrants sailed in were suddenly before us. The fear, courage, desperation and devotion burning within the immigrants was searing.

I found myself thinking what right does anyone have to take away their hard-won land, a hard-earned living? The profusion of emotion that ‘Crossing the Black Water’ shook out of the audience was spontaneous, approaching madness. I wanted to weep for joy and empathy.

It ended all too quickly, as is sometimes said in and of a life. Will we meet again in Taipei at year’s end? I never thought I could be so deeply moved by dance. Rock on, agents of artistic endeavour. Rock on.


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