Lied Ballet: Different possibilities of dancing to Lied
By J. Lei
The name of this performance erroneously leads people to assume this is a ballet performance. However, the term “ballet” has more than one meaning as it also was used by the French in the 16th and 17th centuries in the sense of “dance”. In this work, the term “ballet” is associated to another ancient word of equal standing, the “Lied”, German for “song”, mostly used to describe German songs composed during the Romantic period, by Schubert, Beethoven, etc. As such, the meaning of this performance’s title is literally “song and dance”, appropriately revealing the choreographer’s intention to create a work arising from the transformation of elements of these two ancient expressions and establish a direct correspondence between them.
French choreographer Thomas Lebrun has been at the helm of the Centre Choregraphique National de Tours since 2012 and has become one of the most influential choreographers of the new generation. In Lied Ballet, completed in July 2014, he borrows musical elements from the classical and late Romantic periods. His intention, however, is not to reproduce or bring Romanticism back to life, but rather to deconstruct these musical works in detail, such as the transformations between vocal emotions and movement capabilities and the disconnections and links of movement caused by vocal and instrumental music, revealing a variety of unrestrained languages of movement such as classical ballet and contemporary dance, among others. Through realistic and rich layered movements, he tightly weaves music and dance together, offering the audience an innovative taste of an ancient language and a brand new visual and hearing experience.
About the writer
J. Lei (Macao)
Macao theatre professional.
The Suit: A Suit of Humiliation
By Tang Ching Kin
This is a story of infidelity and punishment, with even a bigger motif in the background: humiliation and honour.
Philomen lives in the apartheid era and, although not a part of the lower class, racial oppression and social unrest leave him in a prolonged state of humiliation. When he finds out his wife is unfaithful, he feels the sanctity of marriage has been trampled on and, in a rage, he uses the humiliation in a non-violent yet violent manner to take it out on his wife, until, finally, the tragedy comes to an end. A story of suffering thus appears lighter on stage. The Suit is completely devoid of heaviness, featuring instead Peter Brook’s creativity, subtle simplicity and uncruelness to impress.
Brook once said that theatre is contemporary art. Once the space is defined, the drama can begin; but, in an instant, that space can change and become another. This is cleverly interwoven into the story’s main scenes; the suit the husband asks his wife to get is practically the only prop on stage, standing in place of a person. The husband takes out all of his humiliation on the suit, just as if he was engraving permanent marks in his wife’s life. Brook greatly expands this hypothesis turning it into the main philosophy for the performance.
The simple aesthetics of The Suit can be taken as an example of Brook’s return to the pure and simple after many years of practice.
About the writer
Tang Ching Kin (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong drama critic and currently a doctorate candidate at the Cultural Studies Department of the Chinese Universi ty of Hong Kong. Winner of the 2012 Young Artist Award at the Hong Kong Arts Development Awards (Art Critique).
The Peach Blossom Fan: End of prosperity, vicissitudes of history
By Mok Ian Ian
The Peach Blossom Fan was written in 1699, during the golden age of the Qing dynasty, at a time when Kun Opera was thriving. Kong Shangren, a descendant of Confucius, described the rise and fall of the Southern Ming dynasty in this flourishing time, but also the demise of the Ming dynasty over 300 years ago. This narrative, taking place at the foot of Nanjing, is performed by the Jiangsu Performing Arts Group Kun Opera Theatre. The stage is decorated with paintings by famous Ming dynasty’s court painter, Qiu Ying, that create a bustling and elegant scenario and reproduce springtime at the Qinhuai River banks. In Chinese opera, the actors often remind themselves and the audience that they are only actors in a play. Every now and
then when the audience is drawn by a tense scene on stage, one or more actors will detach themselves from the scene and play the part of the narrator, disclosing extra information about the story and its characters with the audience, using a Chinese Opera technique called the “alienation effect”. Following this tradition, the stage design of 1699 The Peach Blossom Fan features the technique of a stage within the stage, a play within the play; four red columns on stage in one scene depicting the residence of Xiangjun, and later a waterside boat of the “Restoration Society”. On both sides of the stage one can see actors and actresses sitting at the sidelines, who may suddenly join the main actors in the middle of the stage to relate a certain event or story. All these are techniques used in the staging of Chinese opera.
About the writer
Mok Ian Ian (Macao)
Mok Ian Ian is a native of Penglai, in Shandong Province and she currently resides in Beijing. A member of the Chinese Writers’ Association, she holds a Doctorate degree in Drama and Chinese Opera from Nanjing University. Mok Ian Ian spends most of her time reading books and watching plays. She believes “people’s lives are like a play and plays are like people’s lives.”
Out of Context – for Pina: Forging ahead after Pina
By Hsieh Tung-Ning
The sudden death of dance master Pina Bausch (1940-2009) in 2009 left the dance world and dance enthusiasts deeply sad. Even after her passing, we can still find Bausch’s unforgettable image in the performances of her dance troupe Tanztheater Wuppertal – Pina Bausch and in the works of other contemporary choreographers who were influenced by her work.
Belgian director Alain Platel, one of the leading personalities of the contemporary dance scene, was also influenced by Pina Bausch and her dance ideology. Platel was named one of the most important choreographers of the first decade of the 21st century by French newspaper Le Monde, and he created Out of Context – for Pina, in homage to the dancer right after her passing. This piece is not only a tribute to Pina Bausch and her work, but also an eager step forward, bringing about a breakthrough concept of dance movement, and allowing the post-Pina dance generations to swiftly write down a new page, while establishing Platel, creator of Belgian troupe les ballets C de la B, as one of the dance masters of the new generation.
Platel has his own dance vocabulary, distorted, frenzied and even violent, a style that has influenced many young outstanding choreographers that went on to form their own dance groups, such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Hans Van den Broeck, Koen Augustijnen, Lisi Estaras and Franck Chartier and Gabriella Carrizo, founders of Peeping Tom dance company. Out of Context – for Pina was already performed 140 times in 52 cities all over the world and has been on tour since 2010, revealing the choreographer’s status and popularity. This success indicates that in the post-Pina era, dance theatre has been passed on to this avant-garde choreographer, who will certainly continue to carry it forward.
About the writer
Hsieh Tung-Ning (Taiwan)
Theatre Director and critic, formerly involved with the Lan Ling Theatre, U Theatre and Ren Zi Theatre. Graduate of the School of Theatre Arts of the Taiwan National University of the Arts, member of the groups of directors of the Graduate Institute for Theatre Playwright and research fellow at the Paris III SUAPS Centre in ‘Movement and Body’. Accumulated extensive experience while living in Paris for 9 years, and has been dedicated to theatre, dance, exhibitions and other creative works since returning to his country. Hsieh Tung-Ning is, at present, Director of the Voleur du Feu Theatre and critic for the “Performing Arts Review Platform”. His works have been published in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Trust: Facing the collapse of values, provoking theatre aesthetics
By Vee Leong
Premiered in 2009, Trust leads the audience into the biggest disaster of our times – the financial crisis – exploring, in this environment, society’s and individuals’ psyche and body; after all, what is left of a life dominated by finance and the market? Is “trust” the key point of this work? Trust between whom? Borrowers and lenders? Investments products and fund managers? Employees and CEO’s? People and the Government? Wives and husbands? Children and parents? In a world of variables where anything can be bought and sold and values rise and fall, Trust highlights the collapse of interpersonal relationships, the loss of conscience, let alone trust in other people and trust in oneself. The play depicts a world not to be relied upon. As a self-directed playwright, Falk Richter is not only concerned with the timeliness of the text but also in exploring form and aesthetics. In recent years, he has developed, together with Dutch choreographer Anouk van Dijk, the choreographic theatre, an apparent huge challenge for these two artists: on the one hand, they continue to experiment with language and narrative; on the other hand, they take the ‘translated’ text to explore and emphasize a physical performance.
Language in Trust is highly dense while it creates, at the same time, an exceptionally rich performance. Performers have some fixed roles, but, most of the time, they are bodies without souls, falling, turning, speeding up passionately, suspended upside down, floating and stopping on the empty stage, busy and restless. One by one, bodies collapse into and touch one another in the emptiness. Trust’s appeal lies in the per formance and continuous flow of both language and body.
About the writer
Vee Leong (Hong Kong)
A graduate of the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and of the Arts and Drama Department of Goldsmiths College, University of London, Vee Leong has translated and directed works by Sarah Kane, Caryl Churchill and Martin Crimp, amongst others, and was nominated for Best Director at the 3rd Hong Kong Theatre Libre Awards for her work Far Away. Her original work Who Killed the Elephant toured in Taiwan, Mainland China and the UK, and was chosen as Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre’s Best Performance of the Year. Last year, she received a grant from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council for a training and exchange programme at the Odin Teatret in Denmark. She has collaborated with Taipei’s Dark Eyes Performance Lab, Mobius Strip Theatre and Paper Tiger in Beijing. She is currently the Director of On&On Theatre.