Wednesday, August 4, 2010

REVIEW: Whisper of Flowers《花語》

There were a lot of aspects to like about in Whisper of Flowers: the music was Bach's Suites for Solo Cello, the theme were juxtapositions of day and night, exuberance and anxiety, and flowers and hairs; and the style was distinctively modern yet remained true to the company's cultural root. There was only one thing though that I dislike, and that was how all these aspects came together.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) of Taiwan's performance of Whisper of Flowers《花語》on August 4 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre was a bit disappointing. In my years of attending performances by Cloud Gate, I have to say that I would put Whisper of Flowers at the bottom of my list.

Cloud Gate played a huge part of my artistic and cultural life. My first Cloud Gate experience was way back in the mid-80's with their performance of Legacy《薪傳》. It was like nothing I have ever seen and the company danced as if nothing else mattered. It was distinctively modern, yet distinctively Chinese, two facets I never thought could possibly co-exist so beautifully.

Whisper of Flowers was created by Lin Hwai-min as part of the Chekhov International Theatre Festival. Lin chose Anton Chekhov's Cherry Orchard. Instead of coming up with a narrative plot with characters from the original play, Lin opted to explore and expound the theme of youthful enthusiasm giving way to dark apprehension.

The use of red petals carpeting the stage while dancers try to keep their footing in their dance was quite a challenge, but it was visually stunning. The use of black human hair in the second part was also quite interesting as a contrasting feature, but it didn't succeed in integrating into the dance.

Using Bach's Suites for Solo Cello all throughout the piece was for me a bit too much. With so many aspects of the concept banking on disparity, the unifying Bach music stood out "un-unifyingly".

Whisper of Flowers do have the signature physical precision and poetic possession of Lin. He obviously has a couple of profound points he wanted to get across and he crafted them beautifully and eloquently. In between these points though were segments of monotonous dance, almost self-indulgent and bordering pretentiousness.

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At August 5, 2010 at 4:34 AM , Blogger Philippine Pearl said...

nonetheless...i love your photos!

At August 6, 2010 at 11:10 AM , Anonymous HT said...

Satoshi, I had a different experience. I don't recall seeing so much color bursting on the stage from Lin's work and I enjoyed it tremendously , I felt I was watching the making of an oil painting, I couldn't take my eyes off the dancers. After the 2nd act started, I understand why there were no photos of the 2nd act in the brochure. It's such a striking contrast from the colors in act . I felt a bit sedated watching it. I felt was looking at cells writhing in slow motion under the microscopic, with the black hair and the dancers who looked almost nude under the lighting. I also saw pulsating maggots, with the dancers' jerky moments in the last few minutes of the dance. All in all, I enjoyed it tremendously, what a long applause too!

At August 6, 2010 at 10:34 PM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

I am glad that you like the performance. It was a fine performance... just not as fine as the other Cloud Gate performances I have seen before. But then, Cloud Gate is a class of its own and I tend to measure it against itself :-)


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