the New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel
for women and girls. Click here to
see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance
at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Flash Review 1, 11-2:
Postures of Prayer
Cloud Gate's River of Rice
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2000 Maura Nguyen Donohue
Herman Hesse's enlightening,
if Orientalist, novel "Siddhartha" served as inspiration for "Songs
of the Wanderers" by Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theater last night
at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Though one needn't be familiar
with the 1922 novel written by the child and grandchild of missionaries
to India, its exploration of the internal road to salvation is highly
apparent in this steady meditative performance work by Cloud Gate's
artistic director Lin Hwai-min.
"Songs of the Wanderers,"
also the Chinese translation of Hesse's novel, opens with a display
of luminous beauty. A dropping stream of golden rice is slowly revealed
with light from the top down until it appears to hover above the
shaven head of Wang Rong-yu dressed in a monk's robe. Unlike Julie
Tolentino's recent "Bottom Project" at The Kitchen, where she too
was pelted with a deluge of rice, meditative is the mood here as
Wang spends the remaining hour quietly enduring the rain of rice
while maintaining a posture of prayer. In the novel, Siddhartha's
life is a parallel to and variation on that of Buddha's. Where Buddha's
shadow falls upon the entire literary work, his essence is visually
captured in this performance by the constant presence of this peaceful
"Songs" uses more than
three tons of dried and dyed rice. We see a river of it slicing
across the stage symbolizing the cyclical struggles of this life
and its possible release into nirvana on the other side. The rice
eventually covers the entire stage with dancers rolling, dropping
and struggling on it before gloriously tossing it into Chang Tsan-tao's
exquisite lighting design. The spectacle of showering, arcing and
floating rice grains is breathtaking throughout the work and at
many times seems to overpower the human figures on stage.
The highly internal focus
of the work and the great stress on meditative practice both in
the preparation and the performance of this work does not allow
for much in the way of dynamic shift. Though it is obvious that
these are highly skilled, well-trained dancers we are rarely given
chance to see them engage in anything other than slow, evenly paced
movement interrupted by all-too similar bursts of writhing and hair
tossing. Soloists Lee Ching-chun and Wang Wei-ming both provide
vibrant prayers that seem to be more protest than proselytizing.
Wu Chun-hsien's post scripted (after bows) raking of the rice into
a Zen garden spiral is a beautiful example of simplicity and focus.
Shows continue with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:30, and
Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Howard Gilman
back to Flash Reviews