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Rapport Series XXVIII: Hung Dance

  • Publish Date:2020-06-05
Rapport Series XXVIII Hung Dance

From ‘Birdy’ to ‘Boundless’

"Boundless (無盡天空)" expands upon on Hung Dance's (翃舞製作) award-winning inaugural production "Birdy," a duet where a flighty female dancer, wearing a headset of long pheasant feathers, confronts a male dancer, who represents confinement. The inner desire to alter ― or escape from ― one's reality underscores the dancers' search for something that would give meaning to their lives. Integrating eastern aesthetics with contemporary dance movements, Huang Dance aims to present the lives of those people who have the perseverance to soar in this chaotic world.

The 75-minute "Boundless" premiered at the 5th "Made in Taiwan" art festival in Madrid in 2018. In it, Hung Dance's artistic director Lai Hung-chung (賴翃中) further explores some of the themes that inspired "Birdy," including absurdity, irrational events, and feedback from audience members.

"Boundless" is a powerful piece that explores the relations between people in real life, incorporating those with feelings of depression or mental health conditions, and expressing how they are able to face and fight against the farcicality, restrictions, and conflicts in life.

Stage lighting master Liu Chia-ming (劉家明), who was asked to design the lighting for the piece, created a more immediate visual impact through precise light-and-shadow effects. The dancer's costumes were designed by Huang Chih-yang (黃稚揚, also known as Cutting Huang), who used the material and tailoring of the garments to emphasize the three-dimensional movements of the dancers.

Meanwhile, film composer Christina Liang (梁啟慧), winner of a Golden Melody Award and nominee of a Golden Bell Award, was asked to be music designer. It was she who added dramatic background music for the final effect.

In addition, the piece includes the troupe's outstanding dancers: Cheng I-han (鄭伊涵), Chien Lin-yi (簡麟懿), Li Zong-lin (李宗霖), Li Hang-cheng (李杭澄), Huang Xiang-ji (黃翔及), and Yang Ya-ching (楊雅晴), who not only have stunning skills, but also integrate a variety of dance techniques to develop a unique style.

In this piece, materials — including rattan poles, feather headsets, lanterns, and ropes — are merged with body movements and the rhythm of the music to create the dance's unique emotional characteristics.

The performance begins with a dancer wearing a feather headset commonly seen in Peking operas, slowly and gracefully dancing among the shadowy set to dramatic music. The feather headset waves in the air like a paintbrush, but as the music accelerates, the headset gets out of control and starts compelling the dancer to move aggressively.

Lai remarks that the feather symbolizes both the creative, positive qualities of a calligraphic brush and a person's dreams. But it can also be a murder weapon, as written words and unrealistic dreams can destroy a person's heart.

In the middle section of the performance, the dancers come on stage carrying rattan poles to represent the chaotic inner world of mentally ill people. The rattan poles symbolize bracing and support, but at the same time they can act as restraints, restricting the dancers' freedom. As the dancers tug against and break away from the rattan cage, their actions echo the confused and entangled minds of people under mental distress.

In the performance's concluding section, a rope brings out the conflicting beast in the patient's heart, and is circled around the dancers' necks, representing depression and ultimately suicide. At the show's climax, the rope becomes the dancers' escape, and the lantern also lights up to drive away the darkness in the patient's heart.