Cloud Gate – a night of modern dance

25 Nov

There is a proverb – “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  Since I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the arts in Shanghai, it seems like there are more opportunities of events for me to see.   Last week I was able to go to a modern dance performance by Cloud Gate II, the modern dance arm of the famous Taiwanese dance troupe, Cloud Gate.

Prior to being invited, I had never heard of the group, but after agreeing to go and doing a little research I discovered that they were one of the premier dance groups in Asia.  The theater was also in an area where I had never been before, in the middle of a residential district north of Jingan Temple.  I went in not knowing what to expect and was really impressed by the precision and emotion in the dance performance.

There were four pieces presented – none of which I 100% understood which was hindered by the fact that there was no English at all – in the introduction or the program.  It also highlighted that I really know very little “dance vocabulary” in mandarin.  My friend (who speaks less mandarin than I) was dependent on me to translate the descriptions.  I’d say I’m not ready yet to do simultaneous translation on the purpose of dance pieces.

The music and dance connected in an intriguing way.  I found myself making up back stories, using my limited knowledge from the introduction of the pieces.  In my head I had one story about people going to work and falling in love on their commute, but not making it public.  I had another one about the cultural revolution and people being hungry and walking in lock-step and breaking out from expectations.

Since I really had very little idea what the pieces were supposed to represent I was freed from any preconceived notions.  The dancers were excellent – the athleticism and inspiration they portrayed didn’t require translation.

It was an interesting evening – I met several new friends and tried something new.  Hopefully I’ll have more chance to do that in Shanghai in the future.

Have you ever gone to a performance where you didn’t know what you would be seeing?  Do you like modern dance?


4 Responses to “Cloud Gate – a night of modern dance”

  1. Kristin November 26, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    Yayyy for trying something new! Glad you enjoyed the performance so much! I also feel very often that the less expectations you have, the more enjoyable it will be.
    I personally love modern dance – most of the times. In my hometown Hamburg, we have a very famous ballet ensemble that combines traditional ballet with modern dance. Whenever I go home, I try to get tickets, it’s always such a treat! One that I truly miss here!

    • gkm2011 November 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      That sounds very interesting – ballet plus modern dance. After I saw this performance I’d like to see the traditional Cloudgate as well – it really was a special opportunity.

  2. TBM November 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    I’ve been to a few events not knowing what I should expect. I saw some dancers in Maui that amazed with with their skills. The entire story was told through their actions and it was beautiful. I love the proverb!

    • gkm2011 November 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      I think that the essence of dance is telling a story with movement. When you match the music to it it creates a special image that really can cross different boundaries. Thanks for sharing that – I’ve been to Hawaii but didn’t see any dance. Sounds like I missed out!

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