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An Encounter at Weiwuying-An Observation Report of the 2020 Taiwan Dance Platform

An Encounter at Weiwuying-An Observation Report of the 2020 Taiwan Dance Platform

Written by Stella TSAI, observer at the 2020 Taiwan Dance Platform


2020 has been a special year, a year that prompts us to take a look back at the past year in Taiwan.

Unlike the last Taiwan Dance Platform, this year's programs featured a greatly reduced number of international groups. Nevertheless, the platform presented two world-class productions—Floating Flowers and #Yes or No—along with the stylistically divergent triple bill program Dance Together. In addition to the main programs, there was also a wide variety of events that introduced visitors to the art of dancing. These events encompassed both virtual and physical realities and included dance films, dance rehearsals, interactive installations, site-specific art, and a series of international seminars revolving around the development of dance. One could say that the platform provided a multi-faceted perspective into the innate possibilities and potential within dance.


My journey began with Afterimage for Tomorrow, a live performance incorporated with immersive VR. The almost four-dimensional experience was a ceremonial prelude of sorts, thrusting my body and soul into a dimension of pure dance and opening the floodgates for my sensual experiences of the next three days. The programs for the following three days were a nice balance of active and sedentary activities. The seminars in the mornings allowed us to connect with international speakers online and learn about impressive developments in the Taiwanese dance industry, stimulating various thoughts and ideas. In the afternoons, we either moved freely between interactive dance installations or sat on the ground and immersed ourselves in the Dance Film Exhibition; we also experienced a walk in the park in heavy rain and got to witness in close proximity the birth of a work of dance in a dance rehearsal room. In the evenings, we were able to relax and enjoy world-class dance performances. Each piece of the uniquely-styled triple bill program filled us with amazement and contemplation toward the development of dance in Taiwan. We were amazed to find that Taiwan is home to a treasure trove of diverse stories and that these performances are only the tip of the iceberg, an introduction, whereas we contemplated how the creators dug deep into their life stories to uncover emotions and how they managed to maintain the unique flavor of Taiwan while simultaneously conforming to international trends in dance choreography.


There were two parts from the programs that really evoked thought, one of which was the topics and contents of the international seminars. Southern Perspectives of Taiwan Contemporary Dance shared with the audience the Scarecrow Contemporary Dance Company's past achievements and also touched on the corresponding development of art spaces in Tainan and Kaohsiung. However, whether this represents the evolution of contemporary dance in southern Taiwan or merely speaks for the development of dance companies/the dance industry in southern Taiwan remains to be seen. Nevertheless, this seminar was undoubtedly conceived with the general public in mind, allowing participants to see the developmental aspect of dance companies while also letting them personally experience the allure of dancing through body movements. Combined with the afternoon performance of The Memory Overture of Strolling in the Park, viewers were offered a considerably comprehensive experience that provided a closer and more direct look at the Scarecrow Contemporary Dance Company. The final seminar—New Wave of Asian Dance Films in the Post-Pandemic Era of the Digital Age—offered a surprising look at the current state of development of Taiwanese dance films and a glimpse at artists in their creative process. However, considering the limited development of dance films in Taiwan, it would have been better if more time was dedicated to the Q&A session as this would allow for a greater degree of exchange and discussion that could potentially drive further development.


The Encounter.Dance Film Exhibition had an interesting location that had both its advantages and disadvantages. As it was placed in a place of high pedestrian traffic, it was difficult to focus on enjoying the exhibits; the low sound volume also prevented visitors from watching from a distance. However, we were amazed to see children sitting on the floor, fascinated by the pure charm of dance films. The exhibition featured a diverse range of dance films—including video presentations of pure dance and video-guided dance performances—and helped new viewers gain a basic familiarity and understanding of dance films. My suggestion for this exhibition would be to plan a designated area to view the films or perhaps present the films in the form of a reel (a screening under a banyan tree would be perfect!), allowing visitors to view the films in a comfortable, relaxed environment and perhaps even attracting passersby to stop and experience the unique allure of dance films. I also hope that after this first attempt at a dance film exhibition, Weiwuying can, in the future, become a platform for dance films that attracts creators to come together so as to expand the creative possibilities for the area of dance film.

On the whole, not having to rush between different performances this year unexpectedly gave me a comfortable dance-watching experience that allowed me to take my time enjoying them. Every day as I walked around the building in the refreshing breeze at Weiwuying, I could feel the natural energy exuding from the architecture that is in perfect harmony with the adjacent park, allowing me to completely immerse myself in dance. It was also a truly valuable experience to be able to formally enjoy a dance performance in a theater and be able to participate in discussions and receive feedback afterward. This is also a testament to the substantial improvement and growth achieved by the Taiwan Dance Platform over the past two years that allowed for the successful planning and execution of a diverse range of thought-provoking programs, unhindered by the pandemic.

The best part of the four-day event was probably running into familiar faces everywhere when walking around the building, who I would greet and exchange thoughts with on the programs we'd seen; or during mealtimes, when I would strike up conversations with different people sitting at the same table to share my thoughts. It offered me a chance to see these dancers away from their hectic everyday lives, finally being able to focus on doing this one thing. When you think about it, these moments are also when brilliant dance pieces are conceived and are the most beautiful state of a creator.

Stella TSAI

A freelance writer and editor from Kaohsiung. As a lover of cinema and traveling, she writes to deal with information anxiety and travels to nourish her withered soul. Currently the editor-in-chief of Weiwuying's BENSHI magazine, TSAI was also the chief editor of Formosa Circus Art's (FOCA) special anniversary publication A Decade of Circus Dream, and a copyeditor for the exhibition booklet of Weiwuying Taiwan Dance Platform, the Taipei Film Festival, and the Taichung International Animation Festival. TSAI specializes in writing in the areas of art and culture, design, and performing arts; her articles can be seen in various major print and digital media.


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2020 Taiwan Dance Platform


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