Founder and artistic director of Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theatre Lin Hwai-min published his first story at 14, and was a critically acclaimed writer by 22. It was only as a master's degree student at the University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop that he turned his 'childhood fascination' with dance into actual training. Four years later, he founded Asia's first professional contemporary dance company. 'Growing up in the '60s, I thought one should contribute to society, and Taiwanese people love to dance,' he says. 'Without any professional experience, I plunged into it and started to learn.'
Four decades later, Cloud Gate is an unqualified success, and known for its subtle blend of East and West. Lin is still a voracious reader ('it lifts me from my daily chores and keeps my sanity in tact') and gives books to his dancers, but claims he takes his ideas from life, not pages. 'I rarely do research for my creation,' he says. 'I simply live my life, reading, listening to music, and musing. Accumulated impressions come together.'
Inspired by the Buddhist proverb 'Flowers in a mirror and moon on the water are both illusive,' and the tai chi ideal, 'energy flows as water, while the spirit shines as the moon,' Moon Water's choreography is rooted in tai chi movements and set to Bach's Suites for Solo Cello. This lacks the passion of Lin's Songs of the Wanderers, but Moon Water is a stillness we imbibe until it quiets our very soul. The splashy conclusion, featuring dancers cavorting in actual water, is momentarily jarring, but the overall effect will linger. A Cloud Gate classic.