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Cloud Gate 2 tells story of Taipei's oldest district in '13 Tongues'

Cloud Gate 2 tells story of Taipei's oldest district in '13 Tongues'

Electronic music, shouts, stomps, incantations, and dance movements mimicking religious rituals are all part of a production titled "13 Tongues," which will be presented next year by Cloud Gate 2 to tell the story of Taipei's earliest settlement.

The show was previewed Wednesday on the historic Bopiliao block in the city's Wanhua District and will premiere at the National Theater Hall next March as part of the 2016 Taiwan International Festival of Arts.

Cheng Tsung-lung, a choreographer and artistic director of Cloud Gate 2, said the dance piece was inspired by a tale he had heard when he was a child.

"My mother once told me a story about a street artist called '13 Tongues' who performed in Wanhua District," Chen told reporters. "He could play the role of a man, a woman, an elderly person or a child. He could also sing and peddle goods, and whenever he showed up, people would say, 'here comes 13 Tongues!'"

For Cheng, the legendary street artist embodied Wanhua District during its peak period, with its bustling and colorful mix of street markets, temple culture, religious processions, traditional puppet theater shows, and people from all walks of life.

Growing up in Wanhua selling slippers on the streets, Cheng said, he was deeply influenced by the characters he encountered every day -- vendors, homeless people, beggars and gangsters -- and aimed to capture their expressions, body language and voices in his dance piece.

"I hope to stir a feeling of familiarity in the audience and to move them a little," Cheng said.

Cheng collaborated with award-winning Taiwanese composer Lim Giong on the music for the piece, which combines experimental and electronic music with incantations and ancient melodies from Hengchun in southern Taiwan.

The production will be staged at the National Theater Hall in Taipei March 11-13, at the Chung Shan Hall in Taichung City March 18-19, at the Chiayi Performing Arts Center in Chiayi County March 25-26, and at the Kaohsiung City Dadong Arts Center April 1-3.

Cloud Gate 2, a spinoff of the internationally renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, was established in 1999 by Cloud Gate founder and artistic director Lin Hwai-min to give young choreographers and dancers an opportunity to showcase their original work. (By Christie Chen)

Updated : 2021-09-18 20:08 GMT+08:00