Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theatre was named the winner of the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company by the UK Critics' Circle-led 19th National Dance Awards in London on Feb. 18. The honor was given in recognition of the troupe's latest production "Formosa."
"Formosa" tells the long history of Taiwan proper through a beautiful combination of visual design, literature, imagery, music, and physical movement. Artistic director Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) presents both "violence" and "hope" to address the passage of time while allowing for enough ambiguity so viewers can arrive at their own conclusions.
Narrated by writer Chiang Hsun (蔣勳), the stunning production is accompanied by music from indigenous Beinan singer Sangpuy (桑布伊), costume design by London-based Taiwanese fashion designer Apu Jan (詹朴), and interactive media by visual communications designer Chou Tung-yen (周東彥).
Alistair Spalding, artistic director and chief executive of British theatre Sadler's Wells, accepted the award at the London ceremony on behalf of the Taiwanese dance company. "He created a whole dance culture in Taiwan from the very beginning," said Spalding of Cloud Gate patriarch Lin. "He's an extraordinary man who I came to love as a human being."
Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun also sent her congratulatory remarks to Lin upon receiving the news.
Germany's Dresden Semperoper Ballett, as well as the UK's Northern Ballet, Royal Ballet, and Scottish Ballet were also considered for the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company this year, while "Formosa" was also nominated for Best Modern Choreography, but lost out to "The Statement" by choreographer Crystal Pite for the Nederlands Dans Theater.
Founded in 1973, Cloud Gate is Taiwan's first professional dance troupe that has transformed classic eastern aesthetics into a thrilling modern celebration of motion, having been invited to perform in London for ten times since 1999. It has been called "Asia's leading contemporary dance theatre" by the Times, and "Formosa" was selected as one of the top 10 dance shows of 2018 by The Guardian.
"Formosa" will continue its global tour with March performances at Istana Budaya, a world-class performance center nicknamed the Palace of Culture in Kuala Lumpur, and a June appearance at the Chekhov International Theatre Festival in Moscow.