CULTURE

Spectacular dance troupe combines ancient rituals with modernity

Performances by the Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan are spectacular events, according to those who have attended them. Combining ancient Chinese tradition and modern dance, internationally acclaimed choreographer Lin Hwai-min and his company will present «Songs of the Wanderers» at the Herod Atticus Theater in Athens on Sunday and Monday. The upcoming shows are part of this year’s Athens Festival events. 10 parts The production was first staged at the National Theater of Taipei in 1994. It lasts 90 minutes without a break and is divided into 10 parts which deal with prayer and the human effort to achieve immortality. «Songs of the Wanderers» is a work about asceticism, the calm of the river, the journey forward and backward and the crusade into peace. As I think back and look at this work again, it’s like looking through the pages of a diary,» said Lin Hwai-min. Lin connected the production with ancient religious references. «I realized for the first time in my life that Buddha was just a human being who withstood human confusion and internal struggle. When I was at the river Neranjra… I felt this warmth in my soul, which filled with love and admiration… Back in Taipei, I often remembered the freshness of the holy tree and the river that flowed calmly through time. Every day, the Cloud Gate Dance Theater dancers continued to meditate. I created ‘Songs of the Wanderers’ very easily.» Renowned troupe The Cloud Gate Dance Theater is highly prominent, not only in Taiwan, but in all of Asia. Its name derives from Chinese tradition: the Cloud Gate is the oldest known dance in China, a ritual that goes back at least 5,000 years. The company’s repertoire stems from Asian myths and folk traditions. The group consists of 24 highly skilled dancers, whose training includes tai chi, meditation, martial arts, Chinese opera movements, modern dance and ballet. In Taiwan, the Cloud Gate Dance Theater is highly esteemed and has received numerous awards. The local government named a large avenue after the dance company two years ago. The company also enjoys great recognition abroad – artistic director Lin Hwai-min has been greatly distinguished. «Moon Water,» a 2003 production, was heralded as the best of the year in New York. The New York Times praised the troupe, noting that Lin Hwai-min has succeeded in the most brilliant way in combining dance and theater techniques of the East and West. This international critical acclaim resulted in invitations to some of the most important dance festivals in the world, including New York, Lyon, Wuppertal, Berlin and Melbourne, among others. The Herod Atticus Theater is situated below the Acropolis. Tickets are available at the theater’s box office and the Hellenic Festival box office, at 39 Panepistimiou (tel 210.928.2900). For credit card bookings, call the same number.