Cloud Gate's 'Rice' premieres in London

London, Feb. 26 (CNA) Taiwan's renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theatre performed the international premiere of its latest production, "Rice," to a packed London theater Wednesday, winning sustained applause that kept cast members coming back for three curtain calls. "Rice" opened at Sadler's Wells Theatre Wednesday, some four months after its Taiwan premiere, drawing viewers from around the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.
The production features Western-style operatic arias and folksongs in the Hakka language, as well as the recordings of rice stalks swaying in the wind as insects buzz in Chihshang, a rural township in eastern Taiwan's Taitung County known as a center for rice production.
On stage, male and female performers wowed audiences as they danced intertwined in front of images of undulating green stalks. Another scene featured men circling rattan sticks in front of a background of fire. "I was very proud because it is the first time we've coproduced a piece of Cloud Gate. We've presented them six times here at Sadler's Wells," Alistair Spalding, artistic director of the London theater, told CNA.
The Wednesday performance marked the sixth time Cloud Gate has performed at the establishment. Spalding called the play visually gorgeous, saying, "It's beautiful to look at. These images of the rice fields are really beautiful." "The dancers are absolutely outstanding. It's a beautiful piece of work. Lovely music. Exquisite, I say." Created to mark Cloud Gate's 40th anniversary, "Rice" presents the life cycle of rice as a metaphor for the ups and downs of a person's life. In addition to "Rice," Cloud Gate has also brought to London its classic "Nine Songs," which is inspired by a set of ancient Chinese poems by esteemed poet and statesman Qu Yuan (343-278 BC). "Nine Songs" has also received an enthusiastic response at Sadler's Wells, and Spalding said he is confident that Cloud Gate had created a loyal fan base in the UK.
Company founder and choreographer Lin Hwai-min said that "Rice" presents a rural village in Taiwan. He said he is confident that the quality of the production will leave a good impression of Taiwan on foreign audiences. In good news for Cloud Gate and its British fans, Lin revealed that the Taiwanese dance company has been invited back to the London theater in spring 2016, while spin-off troupe Cloud Gate 2 has been invited to perform there in fall of that year. It will mark Cloud Gate 2's first time performing in the UK. (By Jennifer Huang and Scully Hsiao)