As part of the Ministry of Culture's efforts to strengthen cultural exchanges between Taiwan and Thailand, the choreographic co-production "Behalf (半身相)" by Taiwanese choreographer Chen Wu-kang (陳武康) and renowned Thai dancer Pichet Klunchun held its Thai premiere on March 30 and 31 at Chang Theatre in Bangkok.
Beginning as a series of conversations about their cultural backgrounds and different patriarchal social structures, "Behalf" took production team members from Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, and Japan around three years to complete. Also invited to work on the Bangkok debut were dramaturgy consultant Tang Fu-kuen (鄧富權), who curates the annual Taipei Arts Festival, and Japanese lighting designer Takayuki Fujimoto.
Garnering 11 in-depth reports from Thai media, including a whole-page coverage of interviews with Chen and Klunchun by English-language newspaper The Nation's arts section and live interviews by TV channel Now26, the two showings in Bangkok drew high praise from Thai art critics and saw the theater seats fully occupied.
The transnational co-production began in 2016, when Chen's Horse Dance Theater received funding from the Ministry's Emerald Initiative for deepening Taiwan's cultural exchanges with Southeast Asia. Chen and Klunchun rehearsed in Taipei, Bangkok, and Tokyo over the years until the Taipei premiere of "Behalf" in May 2018. The production drew a lot of enthusiastic discussions and was nominated for the Taishin Arts Award, an iconic arts prize in Taiwan.
Located in suburban Bangkok, Chang Theatre was designed by Klunchun and was used as a rehearsal site for "Behalf" in 2017. Subsequently, holding the Thai premiere at there on March 30 and 31 meant a lot to the production crew.
As Taiwan takes more initiatives towards becoming a pivotal East Asian platform for cultural exchanges, more transnational collaborations will be forthcoming. "Behalf" will soon embark upon a global tour with performances slated for Belgium, France, and Portugal to showcase the unique creative powers of Taiwanese and Thai art sectors.