Kuo-Shin Chuang Pangcah Dance Theatre is a contemporary dance troupe that applies experimental approach to movements and interpretations of aboriginal culture. Since its establishment in 2005, it has provided a stage for young aspiring dancers while preserving aspects of the Amis culture. The troupe has performed in festivals across the world, including Hungary, Portugal, Mexico, and Brazil.
Founder Kuo-shin Chuang originally served as a teacher at Taibalang Elementary School in Hualien. He stepped into the realm of dance after being tasked by the school principal to instruct the school's dance group. Though Chuang was not a professional choreographer, he started doing research and developing different teaching methods to foster children's interest in dancing.
During the process of research, Chuang reconnected with his Amis heritage, which he later incorporated into school performances and led the student group to win a national folk dance competition.
After cultivating and training students in several schools, Chuang established a dance group at Jiaoyubuyongxuxiaoyuan-Beipu Elementary School, where he helped children cultivate confidence and changed their attitudes toward academic learning through dancing.
Since Hualien's junior high schools didn't offer dance classes for talented students, Chuang and his wife established the Kuo-Shin Chuang Pangcah Dance Theatre to offer a free stage for those who want to continue dancing after graduating from elementary school.
Comprising originally of twelve members, the troupe doesn't have its own studio but practices at the playground and other public spaces instead. These hardships have not stopped the children from continuing dancing. "They dance because of passion; not for the spotlight, applause, money, and vanity,” noted Chuang.
As an aboriginal troupe, it presents Amis culture through a contemporary approach, integrating aboriginal elements with daily life and Taiwan society to show how aboriginal peoples live in the modern world today instead of simply performing the traditional dances of the Amis.
The troupe seeks to stimulate contemplation of the Amis people over their own culture and identity while allowing the audiences to understand the Amis from a critical and philosophical perspective.
So far, the troupe has created four productions, including "Crazy Annual Festival (豐年祭),” "Takasago (高砂),” "Priest in Sunset (黃昏的祭師),” and "038.” Each production explores different issues encompassing tribal legends, historic anecdotes, and symbols.
The troupe joined Edinburgh Fringe for the first time in 2017 and staged "038" to explore the anxiety and loss of cultural identity of the aboriginal peoples who left hometown to seek job opportunities in the big city.