“No specific words can express the meaning of tonight’s performance. Rather, these pieces are permeated with our conceptions of ‘the body’ and physical practice. So what your eyes perceive is exactly what our hearts hope to express,” Says Tao Ye, the Choreographer of this stunning piece of art.
Tao Ye has created a visual interpretation of life itself in a beautiful, confronting, simple and compelling contemporary dance piece that took my breath away.
The dancing was strikingly enriched by the accompanied music of Chinese indie-folk-rock composer Xiao He. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before, and the control of dynamics and changing between tracks was controlled smoothly and appropriately in conjunction with the dance.
There are few words to describe the performance itself, and is something that has to be experienced to truly understand. Act I, entitled “4”, included four dancers who worked in a perfect rhythm that wasn’t quite in sync, but deliberately and charmingly so. Tao Ye’s Choreography encapsulated the emotions surrounding the repetition and insanity of the lives we lead in a fluid, graceful routine.
Each dancer was dressed the same, with their hair covered and faces painted to create the idea that they were genderless. This was a beautiful costuming choice that only added to the suspense and intrigue of the unique routine. Throughout act one, each dancer kept the same distance and formation from each other while gradually growing faster and more desperate. This was done so incredibly well that I didn’t even notice the slow swell and speed of the music until I was already on the edge of my seat, completely swept up in the emotions the dance evoked. Ye’s use of repetition, weight and ease in his choreography enhanced the unspoken yet undeniable message behind the act.
Act II Was very different. Labeled “5”, it consisted of five dancers who, rather than working in sync in sharp formation, came together to work as one. I watched as the five bodies on stage became a liquid, working together at a harmonised pace to create a body of water and fluidity that moved around the stage so smoothly that it looked like a separate force was moving them.
The set was stark and simple, Black walls and a white stage. The black walls gave the illusion of space, where the white stage floor enabled every movement the dancers made to be seen as it contrasted beautifully with their dark costumes. The lighting was also blunt and simple, only spotlights and a full stage wash used to illuminate the dancers, but that was all that was needed and any more than that would have been unnecessary and distracting.
Costuming was the only thing that changed, other than Choreography, between the acts. In act II, the face paint and hair covers were removed and the faceless, genderless dancers became individual people, and the costume itself was lighter in colour and material, appropriate for the change of choreography.
My only criticism for the piece is that while the dance was beautiful and captivating, both acts were very repetitive within themselves. If either act had included something out of the ordinary, such as a dancer breaking from the pack to do something solo or with a pair, it would have recaptured everyone’s attention, and potentially created a stronger performance.
Other than this, I was very impressed with how the sound, costume, lighting and set design all came together to enhance the performance itself, I loved the choreography and the grace of the dancers, and I was genuinely captivated by the beautiful performance as a whole. —