Tao Dance Theater - 4 & 5
Darkness. A bell tolls. Light. Dark background, light floor. Four persons wear identical and asymmetric clothes, of dark grey shades, slightly cerulean. One sleeve is too long, covering the whole arm, the hand, and hanging loosely at the end. The other is too short, ending before the elbow. They stand at the corners of a square, all facing the audience, with synchronic movements. The faces are painted black, in strong contrast with the white of the eyes. Variations of light, sound, and rhythm, often very abrupt, do not seem to influence their movements, which continue undaunted and hypnotic. Darkness. A light focuses on them, leaving each half in the shadows. The side of one complementary to the other. The dance continues, with the four never touching one another. The rhythm heightens, then slows down. The light becomes more and more feeble. Darkness.
Darkness. A light is focused on five persons, sitting on the floor, each hugging the next. The light gray garments they wear blending with the floor. The sound is deep, grave, hinting a mantra. They slowly move, rolling on top of each other while sliding across the floor in a circular motion. Each movement merges into a larger flow. All individuals struggle and fight, trying to stand on top of the others, before cowering slowly to the ground. The pressure is tangible, and when one finally manages to stand, it cannot straighten up, but walks only a few steps, with low head and shoulders, before going back to the others still slithering on the ground. There is a continuous research for contact, with the five never moving too far from the group. They seem to support one another, as it would otherwise be impossible to stand on their own. The sound changes, to a soft and sweet, but off-key, piano. The light weakens. Darkness.
I attended the “4&5” show, by Tao Dance Theater (Beijing), on September 6th at Dansens Hus (Stockholm, SE). I was honestly intrigues by the short clips that I found online, but tried to not dig any further, to keep the experience intact a, possibly, more authentic. I hate to be influenced by others’ opinions before actually attending a show. The two parts, 4 and 5, of approximately 30 mins each, were masterfully crafted coreographies of continuous movement, never to be interrupted. The contrast between the two acts, the absence of contact in 4 and its restless reasearch in 5, was simply delightful. During the exhibitions time flew by, and I was quite surprised when the audience started clapping, as the first half an hour was over in the blink of an eye. If you have the chance, and you are into this type of artistic expression, I highly recommend attending Tao Dance Theater’s future shows. The only flaw, if any, is that once the show is over, you will definitely wish there was more.
This sketch (draft at the top of the page) is a small tribute to Tao Dance Theater’s awesome performance last week. I posted the intermediate drafts and a bit more details on my instagram page.