If you peruse the notes on Whisper of Flowers, the latest work from Taiwan's acclaimed modern-dance company Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, you will discover that it is a choreographic extrapolation of Chekhov's tragicomic swansong, The Cherry Orchard. As if that wasn't highbrow enough, the piece also does away with Chekhov's original characters and instead employs metaphors to explore the theme of "an unknown darkness." And if that sounds all too ponderous for you, no matter. "These are just excuses to dance!" says Cloud Gate's founder and artistic director, Lin Hwai-min, with lovable frankness.
Ranked among Asia's foremost dance troupes, Cloud Gate celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, and if you're visiting Taipei between Oct. 3 and 12 you should on no account miss a performance of the mesmerizing Whisper of Flowers at the National Theater. As dancers leap and twirl, thousands of falling pink petals carpet the stage in a fabulous display of exuberance before the work takes sinister twists, designed to express the fleeting nature of creation.
The company had a brush with just that recently, when its rehearsal studios were destroyed by fire. But such is Cloud Gate's local standing that the amount required for rebuilding about $375,000 was spontaneously donated by the public, without the need for a fundraising campaign. That's another excuse for Cloud Gate's dancers to kick up their heels.
For more information on Whisper of Flowers, visit www.cloudgate.org.tw.
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