Visuals by DPAC
By Richard Chua
5 July 2014, 8.30pm
Mirror Image is a philosophically beautiful dance collaboration among dancers from DPAC Dance Company (Malaysia), Mirramu Dance Company (Australia) and Dancecology (Taiwan). The work has provided clear reasoning in the call to appreciate and preserve nature, coupled with the meditative quality reminiscent of Chinese meditation, stirring an emotional argument for it. The dance piece consists of ten sections, ranging from the narrative associated with the old tree to that describing the raw predatory energy of animals. The project was initiated by Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM, the artistic director of Mirramu Dance Company of Australia, in collaboration with Wong Jyh Shyong (Malaysia) and Peng Hsio-yin (Taiwan), and dancers from all three dance companies.
Dr Elizabeth Dalman has presence, right from the beginning, as the old tree. Her energy was gravitational, a culmination of her life experience working about dance and nature. The ensemble dancers (Kyson Teo, Janine Proost, Holly Diggle, Chen Yi-Ching and Chen Fu-Rong) also deserved commendation, for they provided the needed texture to the choreography jointly created by Wong Jyh Shyong, Peng Hsiao-Yin and Dr Elizabeth Dalman. The ensemble members got a difficult task at hand, for their parts of the choreography required them to show different movement qualities; some of them related to how nature changes the plants and trees; some of them, animals’ natural actions. The difficulty of the task was apparent when dancers executed their moves, especially when transferring one body to another. However the final product was no less than beautiful, for the contrast between the passive and the aggressive were clearly delineated.
The passive was illustrated by dancer Wong Jyh Shyong’s attempt to provide a counterpoint to man-made destruction to nature through the character of a man with a bell, reminiscent of Taiwan Cloudgate Theatre’s The Traveler in Nine Songs. Typical of the dance style of graduands from the rigorous dance curriculum of his alma mater Taiwan National University of the Arts (TNUA), Wong Jyh Shyong’s use of Chinese martial arts movements inspired by Tai Chi was apt in preparing the meditative space for audiences.
On the other hand, the aggressive was best performed by Taiwanese dancer Chen Fu-Rong. His body possessed the raw quality of a threatened animal, in the face of imminent danger. His duets were riveting, to which fellow dancer Kyson Teo danced with great challenge, counteracting his sheer force and dexterity. Chen Fu-Rong’s energy and strength have put his fellow dancer Kyson Teo at the risk of imbalance, in terms of his shifting weights in movement, as well as his anticipating Chen Fu-Rong’s next movement trajectory in quick motion.
The passive and the aggressive encourage the process of mirroring, a form of self-reflexivity.
Female Taiwanese dancer Chen Yi-Ching’s tree at the end of the performance provided a good and moving conclusion, having to take over the baton of youth from Dr Elizabeth Dalman — A metaphor for new life after death. Collectively the dancers have painted the mirror images well, for the movements mirror the workings of nature; the choreography mirrors one’s own meditation on the state nature in the present day.