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Cloud Gate Dance Theatre review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘exquisitely crafted’

Formosa, the title of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s latest work to premiere in the UK, comes from the name Portuguese sailors first gave to Taiwan: Ilha Formosa, or “beautiful island”.

Within a stark white box, the company create a beautiful and entrancing evocation of its homeland. Words, softly spoken or sung in low reverberating tones, speak of the island, its culture, and its seasons.

Projected onto the backdrop in Chinese characters and above the stage in English surtitles these words, taken from various writings and contemporary Taiwanese poetry, gradually build a subtle image of place and people.

The company’s movement is equally poetic. It doesn’t so much echo the words as resonate with their intention and emotion. The dancers move waves; groups, couples and duets flocking together like birds. They spring and spiral, their movement a seamless fusion of balletic elegance and heavy, grounded contemporary. Sometimes the movement comes in powerful bursts, at others they simply run in and pause, still and watchful.

Images of the egret, of migrating birds over the rice fields, of water and waves recur throughout the accompanying poetry. The company’s flowing, supple movement implicitly reflects these ideas without ever being explicit.

Masterfully danced and impressively crafted, Formosa is a beautiful, mesmeric work. Despite the sheer quantity of movement it never becomes indulgent and each section is perfectly paced, the dynamics fluctuating just enough to hold the attention. It’s a compelling piece danced by a company with both power and elegance.

 

Verdict
Poetry and movement combine in this compelling and exquisitely crafted work  

Production Information

Production
Cloud Gate Dance Theatre: Formosa
Venue
Sadler's Wells
City
London
Starts
May 9, 2018
Ends
May 12, 2018
Press night
May 9, 2018
Composer
Kaija Saariaho, Gerard Grisey, Liang Chun-mei, Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw
Director
Lin Hwai-min
Choreographer
Lin Hwai-min
Lighting
Lulu WL Lee
Costume
Apu Jan
Cast includes
Chou Chang-ning, Huang Mei-ya, Huang Pei-hua, Tsai Ming-Yuan, Hou Tang-li, Ko Wan-chun
Producer
Cloud Gate Dance Theatre
Running time
1hr 10mins