CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan portrays spiritual pilgrimage
in Hancher performance
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Taiwan's leading modern-dance
company, will perform "Song of the Wanderers," inspired by the
religious pilgrims of India, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, in Hancher Auditorium
on the University of Iowa campus. The event is part of the FREEDOM Group
Innovation Afoot Series.
The public is also invited to a free tai chi demonstration at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 27 at Old Brick in Iowa City.
"Song of the Wanderers" was choreographed by Lin Hwai-min,
the founder and artistic director of Cloud Gate. Lin received a Master
of Fine Arts degree from the UI Writers' Workshop in 1971, and he received
his first training in modern dance while he was at the UI.
Since founding Cloud Gate in 1973, naming the company after one of the
oldest known dances in China, he has been recognized as one of the most
important cultural figures in Asia. In addition to his innovations in dance,
he is also a best-selling author in Taiwan.
In 1983 Jaycees International named Lin one of the 10 outstanding young
people in the world, and this year Taiwan's leading magazine, "Common
Wealth," designated him one of the most influential figures of the
last 200 years of Taiwan's history. The South China Morning Post has called
him "one of the greats of the 20th century."
The performance of "Song of the Wanderers" will be Cloud Gate's
second visit to Hancher Auditorium.
Lin's unique vision combines the techniques and athleticism of western
modern dance with the traditions, spirituality, art and history of Asia.
Inspired by Hermann Hesse's novel "Siddhartha," he made several
visits to India, following the pathway of the historical Buddha, as he
developed "Song of the Wanderers."
He sat and meditated under the banyan tree where, according to tradition,
the Buddha achieved enlightenment. After the death of Iowa's Paul Engle,
the long-time director of the Writers' Workshop, Lin gave a leaf from that
tree to Engle's widow, Hualing Nieh, who still lives in Iowa City.
In "Song of the Wanderers," his dancers enact a timeless journey
of the spirit on a stage covered with golden rice grains, an Asian symbol
of life. Conceiving of all religious practices as "essentially a quest
for peace," Lin explores with movement what it means to seek and achieve
For three years, Lin included meditational practices in the Cloud Gate
training regimen, to prepare the 24-member company for the performance
of "Song of the Wanderers." "Each choreography session started
with one or two hours of meditation," Lin explains. "With their
eyes still closed, the dancers then gradually moved into tai-chi, then
into improvisation, then into movement."
In the course of the dance, the Wanderers undergo a series of ritualistic
passages, recalling the rituals of Tibetan Buddhists, Hindu devotional
practices, Chinese religious dances, the whirling dervishes of Turkey and
Contributing to the international flavor of the piece is the haunting,
Islamic-influenced music of Georgia, where Europe meets Asia.
Rice rains down throughout the piece, so that in the end one of the
dancers can painstakingly rake it into a spiral, an act reminiscent of
Zen Buddhist gardens.
Sarah Brooks wrote in the Free China Review: "Although 'Song of
the Wanderers' is replete with references to actual religious practices,
some of them quite esoteric, the audience need not recognize these in order
to respond to what is taking place . . . The audience takes part in the
same journey as the Wanderers, in their quest for spiritual awakening --
which is summed up in a moment of both deep calm and celebrative joy."
The FREEDOM Group is the corporate sponsor the Hancher's Innovation
Afoot Series, through the University of Iowa Foundation.
Tickets for Cloud Gate's "Song of the Wanderers" are $35,
$32 and $29. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount,
with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience
members 17 and younger are half price.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa,
dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is
toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged
to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases
to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option
of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services
should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office
personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair
access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is
equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.