"Rice,” the human drama of environmental devastation and resurrection told through the life cycle of the humble crop plant, unfolded across the U.S. as Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theatre toured California, Texas, and Washington, D.C. from Jan. 22 through Feb. 13.
"Rice” was created in celebration of Cloud Gate's 40th anniversary in 2013. Choreographed by founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民), the piece takes inspiration from Chihshang (池上), a rural township famous for rice production in eastern Taiwan. Lin asked his dancers to participate in the rice harvest and brought the experience on stage.
Combining Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and contemporary dance, the production opens with dancers weaving against a projected video footage of rice fields. Through the dynamic movement of its dancers, "Rice” presents the full scope of humanity, nature, and rebirth. It is Lin's tribute to the universal cycle of life and death.
Select reviews of Cloud Gate's 2016 US tour are provided below:
- "In ‘Rice,' the dancers of Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theatre tease out the poetic themes that relate to the farming of an essential crop. These are not difficult to imagine, and as one would expect, in Friday's performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House, the dancers offered ample images of fertility, joyful abundance, death and resurrection.” - Sarah L. Kaufman, The Washington Post
- "Tracing the story of the land, ‘Rice' — at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from Jan. 29 to 31 — is a visual spectacle with dancers embodying soil, sunlight, wind, water and fire. Their movements are set against a backdrop of breathtaking videography of Taiwan's East Rift Valley that captures the flooding of the fields, the sprouting of seeds, the harvesting of the grain and the burning of the stalks.” - Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times
- "In ‘Rice,' which Cal Performances presents this weekend at Zellerbach Hall, Lin takes inspiration from the humble staple food of the title, elevating it to something elemental and ripe with meaning … And though Lin's creations are often described as ‘East meets West,' they are also persuasive in their universality.” - Mary Ellen Hunt, SF Gate
- "An esteemed novelist as well as one of the first public figures in Taiwanese life to come out as a gay man, [Lin] Hwai-min has, by sheer force of personality and tremendous organizational effort, altered the perception of contemporary dance as an art form in East Asia. On Tuesday, Santa Barbara gets its chance to see how his crops grow.” - Charles Donelan, Santa Barbara Independent
- "Choreographed by artistic director Hwai-min Lin with magnificent video footage by Howell Hao-jan Chang … the video alternates from close-ups of pendulous buds to dizzying images of waving grass to grand views of distant mountains. What is remarkable is that the video does not swallow up the dancing; nor does the dancing simply imitate. The two are in perfect harmony.” - Margaret Putnam, Theater Jones
- "[‘Rice'] feels timeless. It is ritual-based. And while themes such as the cultivation of rice and its relationship to the environment and to the culture of Asia aren't uncommon, 'Rice' remained mysteriously mouthwatering.” - Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times