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Lost in abstraction or nostalgia

Japanese choreographer Hiroaki Umeda has a 10-year plan. He launched a choreography project titled “Superkinesis” in 2009, exploring body movements in unique ways, usually combined with sound, images and lighting. The project's fourth choreography, “Temporal Pattern” (形式暫留), premieres today at the Taipei International Festival of Arts.

“I chose three different traditional dancers from Cambodia, India and Taiwan to work with me, a Japanese dancer, to discover the diversity of Asian dance,” said Umeda in early February when he and the dancers were doing a three-week intensive rehearsal.

“The challenge of this piece is to find a movement system within the different styles of dance while keeping their own characters,” he added.

The three dancers are Rady Nget from Cambodia, Hema Sundari Vellaluru from India and Cheng Yu-jung (鄭郁蓉) from Taiwan. Nget specializes in the monkey role of Cambodian classical mask dance Lakhaon Kaol. Vellaluru has training in classical Indian Barathanatyam and Kuchipudi dance forms, as well as contemporary dance techniques. Cheng graduated from the dance department of Taipei National University of the Arts, where she learned Chinese dance, modern dance and ballet.

“Every time we practice, we spend half an hour on improvisation. Umeda is like a DJ who plays different styles of music for us to improvise. He sometimes gives us a theme, for example, moving the center of gravity. For me, his rehearsal method is unprecedented,” said Cheng.

In addition to “Temporal Pattern,” Umeda is also presenting his solo work “Haptic” (觸.覺).

“This is a work about colors. The concept is light 'touches' our eyes rather than our eyes 'see' the lights,” explained Umeda, who has brought “Haptic” to Europe and the U.S. The 25-minute work is destined to bring audiences a new perspective on the physical and psychological dimensions of color and light.

'Temporal Pattern' & 'Haptic' (形式暫留&觸.覺) ► 7:30 p.m. March 15 (Fri.) and March 16 (Sat.) / 2:30 p.m. March 16 (Sat.) and March 17 (Sun.) / Experimental Theater (實驗劇場) / NT$800 / www.artsticket.com.tw

Putting Literature on Stage

An adaptation of author Wang Ting-jun's (王鼎鈞) 12 essays into a stage play, Greenray Theater (綠光劇團) presents “Temperature of a Single Man” (單身溫度), telling stories of people who came from China to settle down in Taiwan during the 1950s. They are also commonly known as “waishengren” (外省人), or Chinese people from outside Taiwan.

Written by Wu Nien-chen (吳念真) and directed by Ko Yi-chen (柯一正), “Temperature” is the second project of the Taiwan Literature Theater (台灣文學劇場), which aims to turn literary works into theater. The first, “At the Time of Memorial Festival” (清明時節), was based on the works of author Cheng Ching-wen (鄭清文).

“Temperature” follows the life of lead character Huadi (華弟), illustrating a single man's relationships with his family members, career and lovers. Next to him are women in different phases of his life, giving social context and reflecting the shifting of generations.

Many of Greenray Theater's productions tackle Taiwan social issues. Actors often speak Taiwanese during the performances, creating a sense of familiarity. This time the focus is transferred to waishengren, marking a breakthrough for the troupe. ■

'Temperature of a Single Man' (單身溫度) ► 7:30 p.m. March 15 (Fri.) and March 16 (Sat.) / 2:30 p.m. March 16 (Sat.) and March 17 (Sun.) / National Theater (國家戲劇院) / NT$600~NT$3,500 / www.artsticket.com.tw

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 Finding yourself in Hedwig's angry inch 
In 'Haptic,' Umeda explores physical and psychological dimensions of color and light. (Courtesy of NCTH)

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