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Jade & Artists Dance Troupe

'An Encounter in Time'

by David Mead

August 10, 2012 -- Arts Hall, Zhongli, Taiwan

In an “An Encounter in Time”, founder and artistic director Jade Hua continues her shining of a philosophical spotlight on the search for and the meaning of love began in her 2010 work “An Untold Secret”. Here, her starting point was the fact that, while humans are inescapably tied to love, the nature of love changes all the time.

Hua’s work often has Buddhist leanings. Here she takes inspiration from poems written by Tsangyang Gyatso, the sixth Dalai Lama, as she probes the relationship between men and women through three stories set in two different times and spaces. “Past Life” is about the feelings of déjà vu a man has as he walks into a painting to look for the woman he has been in love with. In “The Moment”, attention turns to love from the point of view of a bride to be, specifically her state of mind and feelings of doubt about her forthcoming marriage. Finally, “Present Life” asks whether it is better that two destined lovers should never meet, so that the feelings of desire when looking for the ‘right person’ are prolonged.

Hua’s choreography treads that tricky line between traditional Chinese dance and the contemporary world. She combines movements, gestures and imagery from classical dance with moments that are very much of today, all the time working against a contemporary background and social context. The result is dance with a particular quality of movement. It’s always precise and, more often than not, soft. It’s an interesting approach, although far what most would think of as cutting edge. Even so, it does sometimes surprise with unexpected bursts of modern energy and a distinctly contemporary vocabulary as in a solo by Lin Chun-hui in “Present Life”.

Hua and her excellent dancers are very good at communicating mood through imagery and movement. That was certainly true in “Present Life”, which includes a beautiful, lyrical duet for Huang Tzu-yun and Lin, or should that be a trio for man, woman and umbrella? There is also an excellent later ensemble dance for the whole company set against the traffic and high-rises of Taipei that had a slightly surreal edge to it. The scene was almost Magritte-like, a mood added to by the Gallic edge to pop singer and composer Kevin Lin’s accompanying music, and despite that fact that umbrellas are a daily sight in Taiwan, used against rain in the winter, and rain and sun in the summer. Late on, there was a wonderful moment when he and a woman walk towards each other. As he reaches out to embrace her, she appears to walk right through him, as if never really there. From a purely dance perspective, it would have made a near perfect ending, although Hua chooses to close with a few lines from two poems that sum up the ideas behind the evening including, “Among so many people, I met you, but still missed you through time and space”, continuing, “everything happens for a reason.”

Elsewhere, in “Past Life”, Hua’s clever use of projections and beaded screens made it appear as if Lin really did walk into that Chinese picture as he sought after the woman he was in love with. All was not simple, though, as in a neat twist the four women in the picture come to life, and appear to tease him in a game of hide and seek using more screens. “The Moment” had rather more traditional imagery as the bride to be was dressed in the traditional red wedding dress, and patterns were made with red and white silks.

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