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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers' Spring Season 2022
Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers
April 8, 2022
The performances of April 8-9 for the KYL/D Spring Season 2022 at the Suzanne Roberts Theater drew us in curiously, and unusually separated segments, namely the beginning, the middle, and the end tackled this common trope. It’s physicality explored the body in a connection to the space, and the archetype fully realised the passion and aliveness of dance in staged performance.
At last, the final week in April, we were able to commemorate Kun-Yang’s impact on the Temple University Boyer College community. Such dedicated work from faculty and students felt more challenging, and more self-aware than before for Kun-Yang’s training and repertoire in Philadelphia. Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers performed three pieces just this past April, the company produces at least one new dance piece every year, so in a dramatic tripartite, cinematic-like programme they returned to the stage with an adventurous series. The poetic nature that stems from Kun-Yang’s choreography brought out the strengths and style of each of the ten dance artists. The body of work ties together South East Asian arts with a multicultural approach to Eastern philosophies. The breath, and lightness of the body on a single plane draws on the theme of ‘Mother Earth’, our health connected to our environment, and a personal resolution in “Spring 101”
A dynamic ensemble with a pensive temperance in the first piece began in an effervescent fashion. The comparative artistry translated and communicated the poetry by Pan Cheng Lui, and calligraphy historically defines a formal quality in “Fish & Girl”. Here as elsewhere in his repetroire, Kun-Yang Lin emphasises a unique formation of meanings through the gesture within a group, universally, and individually. In the beginning, a duet introduces the poem first by Evalina Carbonell (Wally) and Wei Wei Ma stop and go, top over bottom, side by side they negotiated for space. A momentary solo cuts the stage, moving into transition to an idea within the poetry with Keila Perez-Vega’s loose representation of the ‘girl’. The dancers utilize the moments between breathes to address the audience in communicating language between the invisible and the symbolic. Ensemble work created in unison while cutting in and out of solos manifested in details of the gestures continued throughout the core work.
Stirring representational thinking with a spatial specificity in the choreography for “Fish & Girl,” is a thematic preamble for this universal energy. The intersection of Kun-Yang’s formal language of movement originates from the study of interfaith which includes numerous concepts of spirituality. As well as, the early home of Kun-Yang , and growing up influenced by languages spoken in the household. So to say, having parents that used two different languages always had gesture to tie it all together.
The costume design by Jill Peterson, highlighted the dancers’ bodies in their new state, and this was especially so for the solo by Shiyu Wang. As the core worked horizontally across the stage, Wang was a tier above the group holding a large, sparkly skirt. The costume design carved the space out and guided with weight and light. The design continued in all seriousness to connote a personal humor in the end.
The second dance, “OceanWaves,” grasped a tension forming around and in the group, and sporadic departures was a release of energy. The effect was simply, conversations with the ocean waves, and it answered the question of ‘how’ we respond to the immediate life force being in nature. In the space created by the dance artists were their own entity, the dancers became the dance, and what we understood as the elements were alive. The meaning of dances are like words translated by KYL/D and revealed a duality of action; a motif communicated in relationship, literal and figurative, English and Chinese, or movement and speach are all a means to become one with the world around us. A transcendent solo by Ariel Isakowitz marked this descent into the mysterious realms of mind, body, thoughts, and movement.
In the middle section, Kun-Yang delves into the psychological yearning to understand our own time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflections on our materialistic fantasies, and our weightlessness started with a solo by Ariel that tended to the massive upheaval of subjecting ourselves to this social media of modern times. And Grace Stern, Wei Wei Ma, and Keila Perez-Vega followed with a coastal line, a border, the village, drawing a line across the stage without being separated by distance. And an unforgettable solo by Wally under a blaring light gave a sense of extreme pressure, scrutiny, or hazards. This illusion of the group moved in discord and slowly came together, actually looking out at the audience, and coming out of isolation.
The final mark, “Spring 101” in a serene artistry shaped by the colorful costumes and joined together by duets. It came out of the neutral spectrum of the stage before them. Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers train and showcase performances of a large scale, with many layers of objectives visually crafted, and this year’s company artists pan technically a wide spectrum stylistically. CHI MAC, Chi movement arts center, is the home of KYL/D, and it is also the work of outreach, and classes for all levels in practicing Chi movement. The self-discovery shows with KYL dancers by a connection occuring before an audience.