Lin Hwai-min has created a dance company in Taiwan that is almost shockingly esoteric. Much more stripped-down and anti-narrative than many cultural imports from Asia, his Cloud Gate Dance Theatre doesn’t so much turn its back on Chinese Opera, for example, or on Bruce Lee films, or ribbon dances or tai chi– as much as reference and borrow from all these genres, to mash-up their essences.
“Cloud Gate” appeared at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley on October 20-21, 2006 with “Wild Cursive”, the third part in a trilogy inspired by the art of Chinese calligraphy. Long sheets of paper drip ink. There is no music, just a minimalistic playlist of nature sounds. Twenty dancers rush on and off in twos and threes, they circle and stomp and huff, lunge and fly, and then run off to leave one dancer behind to hit the ground in front of one of the hanging paper panels, and then to slow the pace, way down, down and inwards.
After about ten minutes of this, things become at once deadeningly familiar, and yet not. There is a whirlwind at work here, but the passing wind leaves behind a groundwork of dancing that is elusively detailed, delicately structured. Hwai-min has created an elusive form, something delicate and boring. Something with speed and depth.