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Talk Profile | When Words Become Dance: Literature, Music, and Images in Die Brautschminkerin

Talk Profile | When Words Become Dance: Literature, Music, and Images in Die Brautschminkerin

Date: June 1st, 2019
Location: Weiwuying Lecture Hall

Speakers:

  • Die Brautschminkerin choreographer | Lin Mei-Hong

  • Rouged Sacrifice writer | Li Ang
  • Die Brautschminkerin documentary director | Su Che-Hsien
  • Die Brautschminkerin lyricist, co-composer, performer, singer | Yu Yuan-Keng
  • Die Brautschminkerin co-composer, performer, singer | You Li-Yu

Text organized by Bonnie YOU

 

The Kaohsiung sun was shining with a passionate heat on June 1st. I arrived early on purpose and saw that Lin Mei-Hong was already on scene, hurrying back and forth within the venue, rearranging the details of the performance with attentiveness and patience. Lin seems excited and nervous at the same time, since this is the first time for Die Brautschminkerin to be presented in Taiwan, the land that inspired this work. At the beginning of the talk, Yu Yuan-Keng, who was responsible for arranging the music of Die Brautschminkerin, presented a Kudiao (Weeping Tune) My Precious, opening the event amidst the cheers of the crowd. My Precious is the music of the scene where the mother was about to send her son away, casting a solemn and grave atmosphere among the audiences.

 Picture:Left to right: Li Ang, writer of Rouged Sacrifice, and Die Brautschminkerin documentary director Su Che-Hsien.▲Left to right: Li Ang, writer of Rouged Sacrifice, and Die Brautschminkerin documentary director Su Che-Hsien.

 

Li Ang, the writer of Rouged Sacrifice, talked about the birth of Die Brautschminkerin. Li became acquainted with Lin Mei-Hong at an international book festival, but what brought the two together was their common concern for human rights. The inspiration for Die Brautschminkerin was born from the perspective of “human beings” and conveys humanistic values, which was why the work was shortlisted for the Faust Preis in 2011 the instant it was presented in Germany. Die Brautschminkerin went on to be presented through near 50 performances in Germany and Austria, touching the hearts of tens and thousands of people. Apart from being the author of the story, Li Ang has been attending the performance of Die Brautschminkerin as an audience since the work’s premiere in 2011 and its reproduction in 2017, promoting the work with friends abroad. This year (2019), at the invitation of Minister of Culture Cheng Li-Chiun, Die Brautschminkerin is finally coming home!

 

Lin Mei-Hong was personally involved in the audition in late April of amateur actors and actresses for Die Brautschminkerin’s presentation in her home Taiwan. Die Brautschminkerin’s performance in Taiwan marks Lin’s first opportunity of connecting with her homeland through her work.

 

An interview conducted at the time revealed Lin’s experience of bravely confronting the missing parts of her memories and the victims of the historical incident. This process has allowed Lin to transform her empathy to cherishing and treasuring the past and inspired her to contemplate ways to soothe the heart-piercing wounds with positive energy, dance, and rituals. However, these are in no way attempts of forgetting history, but an alternative response to historical records, reminding ourselves and society not to repeat past mistakes.

 

Audiences are pleasantly surprised by the works and performances of Yu Yuan-Keng and You Li-Yu, who integrated elements of Taiwanese music with the dance moves using Guqin (Chinese zither) and Taiwanese Opera Seven-Word Song. When asked about the inspiration for Die Brautschminkerin, apart from applauding the musical accomplishments of oversea Taiwanese artists, I believe the underlying humanistic concern also deserves recognition. Yu Yuan-Keng recounts when he was in Germany, he would walk past a household of a Nazi victim on his way to the theater for rehearsal; he would stop, and whisper in a low voice: “I will sing for you.” These short words convey a profound sense of empathy, which is precisely what Lin Mei-Hong means when stressing: “One’s responsibility as an artist lies in experiencing the pulsation of society and taking an interest in universal humanistic values.”

 

Picture:Left to right: Die Brautschminkerin lyricist, co-composer, performer, and singer Yu Yuan-Keng, and choreographer Lin Mei-Hong.▲Left to right: Die Brautschminkerin lyricist, co-composer, performer, and singer Yu Yuan-Keng, and choreographer Lin Mei-Hong.

 

Director Su Che-Hsien, who was inspired to create a documentary when he saw the performance back in 2011, recalls: “Compared with documenting Die Brautschminkerin, I was more inclined to document Lin Mei-Hong.” Director Su has truthfully recorded the creative process and journey of Die Brautschminkerin over the years. Images are a form of reproduction that immerses viewers in the presentation of Die Brautschminkerin and the different physical movements of dancers. Either solo or group dance, the performers advance into the hearts of the audience through the lens of Director Su, incorporating the creative concept and message of Lin Mei-Hong through the dance images.

 

Yu Yuan-Keng and You Li-Yu presented a refreshing performance of Fallen Flowers as the talk came to a close. Lin Mei-Hong savored the music with eyes closed as if transferred back into her work through the melody. Later, Lin stood up, thanking the audiences with sincere gratitude, not only for their participation but also reminding everyone not to take our freedom and rights for granted, since they were exchanged by our forbearers with great effort. Lin was originally unsure about staging Die Brautschminkerin in Taiwan, but as the European refugee crisis broke out in 2017, she realized that trauma and pain do not merely exist in the East. The idea of “bringing people together” made her determined to bring the work back to Taiwan, presenting Die Brautschminkerin and the participation of amateur performers as a source of light and hope for those who have been imprisoned by darkness.