Started in 2014, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s modest but diverse Taiwan Season has often provided some of the most exciting and interesting productions of the festival. This year it doesn’t disappoint, presenting five carefully curated works at both Dance Base and Summerhall.
The Season begins its Dance Base programme today with a performance of Kuo-Shin Chuang Pangcah Dance Theatre’s 038. This clearly meticulously researched work is based on the music and dance of the Amis people (part of the indigenous population of Taiwan), and explores notions of belonging, identity and home.
Dressed in unpretentious grey smocks, the dancers use the soft sound of their bare feet hitting the floor to accentuate their movements. Much of the dance is synchronous—common—but splinters off into individual shapes and fervours, only to return to its unison once again. The dancer’s collective identities seem bound up in what feels like a need to dance together: despite their individuality, they cannot help but keep coming back to their roots.
What perhaps stands out most, in what turns out to be an incredible piece of work, is the sheer focus of the nine dancers, their impeccable movements and their amazing energy. Their connection to the dance and to each other creates an extraordinary sense of unity that is rare to see.
It is perhaps this unity—this tangible sense of closeness between the dancers—that makes the ending so moving: there is a real release of emotion there that can only come from experiences that are shared and understood collectively.
Coupled with excellent sound and lighting design, and a well-judged use of projection, this is an inspiring work that all lovers of contemporary dance really must see, ideally more than once!