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Renowned choreographer from Taiwan steps toward retirement

By Bo Leung in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-05-04 00:39

The Cloud Gate dance company was founded by Lin in 1973 and has performed for audiences all over the world. Photo provided to China Daily

Lin Hwai-min, the founder and artistic director of an internationally acclaimed dance group from Taiwan, has been at the helm of his project for more than 40 years and is looking forward to winding down.

The 71-year-old award-winning choreographer founded Cloud Gate in 1973, when he was 26. He wanted to create the first contemporary dance company for all Chinese-speaking communities.

Lin will step down as artistic director at the end of 2019, something he is happy about, especially in light of the excessive traveling that comes with the job.

“At the start of 2020, I will look forward to staying in my own flat, washing the dishes, doing laundry, sweeping the floors, and going to the market,” Lin said.

He added that catching up on box-sets of the popular British drama series Downton Abbey is also high on his retirement to-do list.

He will decide his next steps after that.

Cloud Gate will not, however, be completely out of his life because he will remain a member of its board.

“We just wrapped up a 40-day United States tour and then we will be in Europe for seven weeks, with more to come. So, I’ll be happy to stay home,” he said.

The troupe will be in London’s Sadler’s Wells theater this month staging the UK premier of Formosa.

Formosa, means beautiful in Portuguese and Lin’s new work takes inspiration from the legendary words uttered by Portuguese sailors in the 16th century when they first saw the island of Taiwan.

In the production, Lin and 22 dancers explore how writing has the power to change memories, and how history can be rewritten and distorted.

Taking inspiration from words about Taiwan that have appeared in poetry and essays, Lin said the performance is open to interpretation.

“Toward the end, they fall apart, characters fall apart and become meaningless strokes and lines,” he said.

Lin brings together Western contemporary dance with Chinese traditions and Cloud Gate dancers are trained in meditation, qigong, martial arts, modern dance, and ballet.

“At the beginning, all new dancers in the company hated it because they were brought up with Western training, classical ballet, and modern. All of a sudden, we’re asking them to sit down, close their eyes and meditate,” Lin said. “But, gradually, they started to love it.”

As Lin winds his career down, he feels he has achieved what he set out to do and is “happy” the company has toured internationally, performed in Hong Kong, and taken shows back to its roots in Taiwan, where it has performed for various communities.

He hopes his work will continue after he retires and his company will remain a core institution on the island and attract a new generation of performers.

Cheng Tsung-lung, artistic director of Cloud Gate 2, will succeed Lin and direct Cloud Gate.

Formosa will be at Sadler’s Wells from May 9 to May 12.

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