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Dance

People are Talking: UMS Presents Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan at the Power Center

Posted: 10/21/11 -- 12:00 am

27

avatar by Mary Roeder

Photos: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan company member Yu Chien-hung leads a Master Class at the U of M Dance Department.

Tell us what you thought! This is the place to comment on the performance and talk to other people about what you saw and heard.  Don’t forget to click the option to be notified when new comments are posted.

Our interview with artistic director, founder, and choreographer Lin Hwai-min:

Pat 2 of the interview, and Cloud Gate in the words of Ann Arbor’s Taiwanese community here.

 

Mary Roeder works in UMS Education & Community Engagement. Additionally, she is awesome.

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  • avatar

    Terrible. The worst UMS performance I’ve seen in recent memory. While the last half (or perhaps third) of the show was fairly good, the opening was terrible. Had there been an intermission, I’d have left at it.

    Reply
    • avatar

      I’m not sure whether or not you are familiar with the concept of Tai Chi, but it seemed the first half, the “boring” half is more indicative of that concept. Tai Chi is more about finding and focusing inner energy, which would make sense, since the second half of the performance seemed more energized, representing the release of the pent-up energy. In addition, the above post seems to represent on a large part the American expectations for media, a greater emphasis on action and movement.

      Reply
  • avatar

    Was hard to watch at first but grew to like it. Friday was a hectic day for me and the serenity of a Sunday matinee would have worked better. But all told I am not dissatisfied, just wish American life wasn’t so crazy. I think the show last Saturday, Weddings and Funeral Orchestra proves beyond a shadow of a doubt there is something for everyone to like, and conversely, something for everyone to dislike! My senior year in college near Paris was sort of like that.

    Reply
  • avatar

    The beauty of T’ai Chi really failed to hold up well with the way this was presented. The dancers were very skillful and well trained, although sadly unaware of pasties, but the over all composition of the performance was subpar.

    Rather than build energy with the opening of the show, it built a disjointed sense and one that clearly lost the audience. Any attempts to suck the audience in seemed to fail and then the constant stream of coughing from the audience was merely the final nail in the coffin. As an aside people, bring cough drops.

    The unleashing of the energy was also rather disjointed, discordant and jarring. Lacking much of the smoothness and grace that one expects to see from t’ai chi. It seemed more to be one of those 1970 era movies with the random lights and other things my parents describe as “trippy”. In the end I left feeling that I could have spent my ten dollars on much better things. I can only imagine how unhappy the alums who purchased full price tickets might feel.

    On a tangetial note, UMS ushering and crowd control has been terrible this year. During the Yuja Wong performance people were seated late, after she’d begun the first piece, and multiple people snapped photos. Yet no action was taken. At Cloud Gate I saw people using their cellphones and could hear others talking audibly during the performance, yet nothing was done. Things like this destroy the atmosphere and as mentioned above make it an uphill battle for people like Cloud Gate to capture the attention of the audience. UMS needs to ask a few offenders to leave so that the others get the message and behave.

    Reply
  • avatar

    “Steeped in tai chi, meditation, Chinese opera movement, modern dance and ballet, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan features a rich repertoire rooted in Asian myths, folklore and aesthetics with a contemporary perspective.”
    –Carolina Performing Art
    When Universe started being born, or human-being being born, or any nature being born all are so purely, slowly and seems boring. However, that’s part of Universe
    and our nature life cycle. How to create your own life to become colorful and powerful that’s concept Cloud Gate Dance wants to show us in this “Water Stains on the Wall” performance

    Reply
  • avatar

    The performance had great intensity which was hard for the audience to sustain throughout. An intermission would have helped, allowing the audience to return refreshed.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Cloud Gate demanded of me a different mode of appreciation and understanding. How does one “understand” a cloud, its movements, its tempo, its changing colors? i felt the same challenge to my cognitive self — and soon realized that that self was the wrong way to appreciate this presentation. What was needed was the approach to appreciating a sunset, a rising thunderstorm, a view of waves coming across a lake. I gained a new perspective on dance through this remarkable performance.

    And how eloquent is its creator!!!

    Rob Northrup

    Reply
  • avatar

    Is there some pandemic of chronic bronchitis in Ann Arbor? Cough drops, people.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Wow, I thought it was lovely! Very meditative.

    Reply
  • avatar

    I agree with the last post, WOW. The choreography, the sets, the costumes, the music, the lighting, it all went together perfectly. We witnessed a masterpiece. Bring theses people back.

    P.S. You have brought us great modern dance from Japan and now Taiwan, must be some great modern dance in South Korea, too. Probably worth investigasting.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Perception of Art is very subjective, in my opinion.
    Last night Cloud Gate performance was just awesome!

    Instead of viewing as ‘dance’ performance, I felt that I was surrounding with various animated paintings. The platform was like sky in one moment, and was like the entire universe in another moment. People moving, living, and interacting with individual characteristics yet together with great harmony as a whole. Wow, that was just awesome! Bravo!

    Reply
  • avatar

    This is the second performance of this type that we have seen at the UMS. And the second one we left before the end. We swore off Asian dance theater. The music (if you can call it that) is awful the motion is random and painfully repetitive. I find it strange that there is so much nonconformity in the dance of an ethnic group that defines the term.

    Reply
    • avatar

      Random & repetitive? Repetition in dance, as in music, is the structure of the composition. Dance is theme and variation just like music. It doesn’t matter if it is “modern” dance or “classical” ballet, theme and variation.

      Reply
  • avatar

    The performance may show something to do with Tai Chi and Qi Gong. However, I have been wondering about the title, Water Stain on the Wall, and Chinese calligraphy since last Friday. The clouds on the floor?

    Reply
    • avatar

      Hi hhw,

      The ‘floor’ is actually a piece of Chinese Calligraphy Rice Paper. You saw clouds, mountains, and many natural scenes drawn on that paper using calligraphy brushes (dancers sometimes presented as the brushes). The lines are not like the lines drawn by crayons or pens, they are just like stain on the wall made by rain drops.
      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  • avatar

    The dance concert was a major disappointment. It must be an acquired taste because I did not get it. There was little beauty, harmony, humor or ingenuity in the performance. Just monotony: from the music, repetitive dance motions, stone faces to total lack of any intimacy! Looking at clouds for an hour would have been more entertaining. We were cheated!

    Reply
  • avatar

    Terrific performance. Dancers are highly trained. I have practicing Tai Chi for the past 10 years, I could not bend my knees that low for even five seconds but they can do longer than 20 minutes elegantly, unbelivable.

    I felt inner peace and meditation with the performance and that feeling is with me until now. Hope to see their graceful performance in ums soon.

    I droved one hour to see the performacne, I have always wanted to see their show, I appreciated ums and sponsores made it happened.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
  • avatar

    I had the best seat in the house last night. No, I was not sitting next to Ken. I was right behind Mr. Lin and his assistant! Apparently he sits in the audience in all performances and takes notes for dancers to work on the next day and to further polish their performance, even after numerous performances since its premier in Taipei in November 2010. Mr. Lin’s perfectionism is hard to match. (Well, Steve Jobs would smile and approve.)

    Cloud Gate dancers are trained 8 hours a day on various forms in western ballet, Chinese opera basics, Tai-Chi, meditations, and more! The combination of all these forms in harmony are the signature of Mr. Lin’s choreography in the Cursive series that won high acclaims internationally. In this piece, Mr. Lin moves it up another notch and drops imitations of calligraphy as well as constraints of all dance forms. No stories, no props, no colors (except many shades of black ink/cloud on the white rice paper/stage/sky), and minimal music in the first half. What’s left is the purity, energy, a piece of mind, and body movement!

    Another master piece, indeed.

    Reply
  • avatar

    As one commenter noted:
    “This is the second performance of this type that we have seen at the UMS. And the second one we left before the end. We swore off Asian dance theater.”
    That probably is a good idea. Don’t expect Western ideals of “art” from Eastern culture. In music, painting, or dance. I thought this performance was great.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Cloud Gate performances present ideas or concepts rather than stories or pictures, nor is the choreography or music organized to depict harmonious movements. The feeling of disjointure will be very prominent, especially for first-time viewers, because disjointure is indeed at the very heart of Cloud Gate, history, time and space are non-linear and fluid and subject to sudden silences, disruptions or repetitions.

    For those who attended with the wish to leave entertained or refreshed, they would most likely have been disappointed, because Cloud Gate does not provide entertainment in the sense we have become accustomed to-that performances are to be understood instanteneously and effortlessly, creating a high level of interaction between what happens on and off-stage. With Cloud Gate, as with many other modern dance companies, the performances rather ask for open-minded perception and a very high level of thought during and after performances, which is asking a lot (sometimes too much) of audiences who are merely taking a moment out of their busy lives to do something different.

    I did not witness this particular performance at Power Center, but have been an avid follower of the group since high school, and for those who were not satisfied with this show but are willing to try more, I highly recommend beginning with Lin’s earlier works such as Songs of the Wanderers and Legacy, dances that depict more tangible storylines or tableaus.

    Reply
  • avatar

    I did not get it when I was watching the performance Friday night. After viewing all these comments, it helps me to think this is all about simplicity, purity and realization of my own. I get it now!

    Reply
  • avatar

    Lou and I were fascinated by Cloud Gate. And perhaps the best part was kept to last–the most intriguing Q & A session afterwards with Lin Hwai-min!!

    Reply
  • avatar

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about people are talking.

    Regards

    Reply
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