There is a dialogue in the Tony-winning play ClybournePark that’s guaranteed to generate laugh in the theater. This occurs in the scene when a white couple who are thinking of renovating a house they’re moving in and are having a meeting with a black couple who are the long-term residents in the neighborhood. The white male, feeling impatient after the discussion keeps circling around the “style” of their renovation, finally bursts out, “What good does that do if we perpetually fall into the same predictable little euphemistic tap dance around the topic?” The black male then retorts, “You know how to tap dance?”
I cannot help but think about this part when I watched the Taiwanese tap dance group “Dance Works” perform inBrooklynlast week. Who knows Asian can tap dance too! And they’re pretty good at it. While adhering to tap’s spirit of creative rhythm, they have added the elements of traditional Chinese movements. The result is a more tender and soft tap dance.
The intricate relation between costumes and dance is vividely illustrated in Dancing with 29 Sweaters, a collaborative performance between Yung Li Chen 陳詠俐, Huei-Lee Wei, and Jia-Jen Lin 林嘉貞. Chen and Wei’s choreography responds to Lin’s “wearable sculpture” to create a dialogue between dance and sculpture. It will be performed live at the HATCH Presenting Series. The video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goFYM7l3bTU
Composer Huang Ruo and choreographer Michael Mao come together for two performances of “Cultural Convergences” this weekend. Mao has made three dances , two to Huang Ruo’s music: Drama Theater I: Sound of Hand and Drama Theater III: Shifting Shades. The second is played by percussion, piano, cello and 18 beer bottles. Presumably beer will not be consumed on stage! Sound of Hand probably will have a lot of clapping. Huang Ruo is a composer interested in unusual sounds. Even when he uses traditional instruments, they always sound different.
The last piece will be danced to Mahler’s “Der Abschied” from Das Lied von der Erde (in a new version for large chamber ensemble by Yoon Jae Lee). Since the lyrics of the song cycle are Chinese poems from 1200 years ago, this is a fitting conclusion of the “Cultural Convergences” theme. Although without lyrics, the dance may not need to stick to the “Farewell” theme. We’ll see.