New approaches to 'dancing' in the COVID-19 era

04/19/2020 07:34 PM
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Choreographer Chou Shu-yi (front, CNA file photo)
Choreographer Chou Shu-yi (front, CNA file photo)

Taipei, April 19 (CNA) Dancers and choreographers have come up with alternative ways to share their works with the public at a time when many performances have been canceled due to social distancing guidelines imposed during the new coronavirus outbreak.

Choreographer Chou Shu-yi (周書毅) is one of the artists who started thinking about how artists can put on performances that are meant to be a shared experience, he told CNA in an interview in early April.

"This is not just about me. The pandemic has stalled globalization, and touring in different continents has to be cut to the minimum," said Chou, who has experienced several cancellations after finishing choreographing a project in Singapore in February.

Chou decided to look back to artists and the arts back at home, and rebooted his "Next Choreography Project" that has been in hiatus for over five years.

He launched the 2020 Unfolding Futures-Body Short Film Festival as part of the rebooted project, showcasing the body languages of different generations of choreographers and dancers.

The festival, which will take place across three Fridays starting April 24 at the former sake factory of Huashan 1914 Creative Park, will include 17 short films of early works of prominent artists and 17 short films chosen from 75 submissions from around the world, according to the list published by organizers Saturday.

Tickets are available through

Meanwhile, a dance exhibition that has been taking place at National Taichung Theater (NTT) since April 11 is one of the few Taiwan International Festival of Arts events not canceled during the current season.

Using augmented reality (AR) technology, the HORSE dance company has been presenting the latest work of its 10-year "FreeSteps" project that started in 2013 -- "FreeSteps AR Yours" -- at the NTT.

There is no live performance by dancers. Instead, visitors use mobile phones or tablets to view 12 pre-recorded dance pieces at different points scattered around the venue to give them different perspectives of the recordings.

For groups of two or more, one person can watch the video with other members of the group participating in it, creating an immersive experience, the venue said.

"The singularity of performing arts is tough to overcome. Even with the same dancers and the same steps, the performance will differ slightly," said HORSE general director and choreographer Su Wei-chia (蘇威嘉).

"When we sit down, our viewing angle is fixed. Even if you change your seat, you can't re-see what you just saw."

The exhibition, which runs through May 24, also utilizes the unique curved structure of the theater deigned by Japanese architect Toyo Ito.

Though the exhibition is free, the theater is following health authorities' social distancing guidelines and requires all visitors to wear a face mask. Visitors also have to leave their contact information.

In the online world, a few dance groups have streamed their performances, such as the Bulareyaung Pagarlava Dance Company and B.Dance.

B.Dance has streamed a performance every Sunday at 8 p.m. since April 5.

There are also dancers joining musicians in a music replay challenge launched by the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying) in early April.

While the original challenge was meant for musicians to play the entire piece or an except from Johann Sebastian Bach's Musical Offering (BWV 1079), Weiwuying noticed the participation of dancers and shared their posts on its Facebook page Saturday.

One of the dancers highlighted by Weiwuying is Huang Kuan-jung (黃冠榮), who filmed a video of him dancing to the Bach piece in the staircase of an apartment building.

"Been grateful that I'm still able to dance and release emotions through dancing," Huang said in his post, while noting how much the current environment has made him feel uncertain and anxious.

(By Chao Ching-yu and Kay Liu) enditem/ls

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