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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center

Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center

Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers

Performance Date:
November 5, 2022

Freeform Review:

In the outskirts of West Chester, Pennsylvania we arrive at our destination for the Knauer Performing Arts Center to  see  Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers return yet again.  The  experimental showcase of the company’s repertoire brings audiences up to speed to how the choreographer creates with a diverse set of tools. 

Lets begin with the Q&A, because it is not always that we have such a lively discussion about dance with the audience. The talk back from Kun-Yang Lin was insightful. Looking into the artistic vision for his dance artists "deep work." It leaves you with a hint, like a Confucius metaphor like, “Style, is to the likes of my dancers having different animals in them, and they bring animals out when I look for what the work wants to be.” Most interesting, are these evasive answers to questions of how, or when it seems like a simple matter of socks or no socks. Yet, the diverse dance corp and resemblance to, possibly, a zodiac chart becomes more and more clear, to say the least.

The music in the process of designing the choreography takes listening to the dancers at every moment, while following a unique sense for a finished piece in the end. And with large productions, such as, "One-Immortal Game," which we saw in this evening's program as an excerpt from the full length piece, short phrasing becomes more impressive. The massive weight is like a billboard above a city, when the lights go down, and in scale a message comes across larger than life. The excerpt of One-Immortal Game gives a sneak peak into the dynamic shifts that really gave us an X-ray into the choreography.

The dance artists take Chi Awareness classes with master teacher, Kun-Yang Lin. Each class is also open for the public to join the company in their practice of Chi. The appropriation of music for the dance artists is a method of creating inside of a newly created world, rather than dancing to the music. The breath becomes a step in this process of listening to one another and becomes present amongst each other in activating the space, and centering their bodies in relation to self and as a whole. It helps to understand what the dance is like for the dancers, but its even more powerful knowing the emotions transfer through movement. In the choreography of “Blood” by two principal roles in the company, for Wally and Wei Wei Ma it called for serene music for its psyche while the dancers became more earthy. “Blood” relays meanings back and forth by the two dancers in a duet, improvisations, and stand alone moments.

For the program, excerpts at Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center a nod to philosophy as much as it is poetic acknowledges how the dance company creates longer movements by piecing together early works with more modern choreography like Ocean Waves (2021.) A rhythm through breath continues to relate to the movement of nature, like the feeling of isolation during the pandemic and watching the incoming and outgoing tide at the shore, and so forth with the rhythm of dance within choreography that sets up for improvisation. 

The main focus of this evening were excerpts, and the dance artists lead the research for the reception of how the work is to be seen in next year’s 2023 Home Season at the Mandell Theater on Drexel University Campus. From "Spring Duets(2019, excerpt of Spring 101) to Renaissance(1998), we see a clear link between the artistic vision of Kun-Yang from 1998 - 2019. The colors of nature blossoming in a comedic drama, where partnering blends the sexes, a poetic incense for love of humanity, and procreation in the wilderness appears as a divine comedy. With a close reading of these excerpts from a full length saga of Spring 101, and Renaissance, seen as a sexuality hidden under a cloak for most of its duration the sense of a gender reversal or exchange for beauty in its relation to nature is genuinely fascinating. In the postmodern view, a selection over what is rejected becomes ones identity over the other, and the historical notion redirects nonbinary roles to trading spaces. It is evident by "Spring Duets" moving into "Renaissance" that we begin to imagine the significance of gender roles in nature.

This color coded movement through the duets performed whimsically by Sophie Malin and Takashi Kanai, Keila Pérez-Vega and Robert Burden, and a solo by KYL/D Alumnus Anito Gavino, are clever nuances in dance theater that echoes in anticipation of Home Season 2023 at the Mandell Theater. The company announced that the company was currently rehearsing a revision of choreography by Kun-Yang called, “Traces of Brush.” It is a piece that was brought to Philadelphia to introduce KYL/D  after its establishment in New York, in 1998. An aesthetic choice of choreography for the new dance artists in the company teaches the ritual of calligraphy in the Chinese traditional  artform.

Chuck Schultz


Photo Credit:
Chuck Schultz

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