The Spotlight Taiwan project at UMass Amherst will bring the world-renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theatre to Massachusetts on Sept. 23.
The Fine Arts Center Concert Hall at UMass Amherst will play host to "Rice (稻禾).” Created to mark the dance company's 40th anniversary, the production is artistic director Lin Hwai-min's (林懷民) tribute to the land that has nurtured one of Asia's leading contemporary performance groups.
"Rice” is derived from the landscape and story of Chihshang (池上) in the East Rift Valley of Taiwan, where Lin was awed by the immense waves of rice grains rolling across expansive fields. Previously tainted by the use of chemical fertilizers, this farming area has now regained its title as the Land of Emperor Rice by adopting organic farming.
Lin took his dancers to the township, where they joined the eco-conscious farmers in harvesting rice. He then created exuberant yet powerful movements that weave through the elements of soil, sunlight, wind, water, and fire.
Folksongs in Hakka — the oldest among the existing Chinese dialects — and operatic arias from the West, as well as the rustling of grain, soughing of wind, and pealing of thunder recorded on-site, complete the accompanying soundscape.
Immersed in this landscape, the formidable Cloud Gate dancers, trained in Qi Gong and internal martial arts, enact a human drama parallel to the life cycle of rice. This is a work about death and rebirth, devastation, and resurrection.
Tickets for the September show will be on sale for the general public at www.fineartscenter.com. The performance will also be followed by a post-performance talk with the company's artistic director, one of the most important choreographers in contemporary Asia.
Spotlight Taiwan events are funded in part by the Ministry of Culture and special patron Dr. Samuel Yin, with additional support from Five Colleges, Incorporated.
"Rice” featuring Cloud Gate Dance Theatre