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April 22, 2011

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Cloud Gate to stage 'Songs of the Wanderers'

THE internationally renowned Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan will perform "Songs of the Wanderers" - a devotional journey to enlightenment - from tonight through Sunday at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

Based on a Buddhist novel, the signature work premiered in 1995 and enchanted audiences around the world with its imagination, beauty, harmony and tranquility. Tons of rice from Taiwan and authentic folk music from Central Asia are combined in a famous scene.

Featuring East-meets-West dance styles, "Songs of the Wanderers" depicts a process of spiritual enlightenment through experience and suffering.

Cloud Gate Theater was founded in 1973 by Taiwanese choreographer Lin Hwai-min who named it after the oldest known dance in China, a 5,000-year-old ritual "cloud gate" dance. Over decades the company has tapped Oriental culture and its myths, folklore, art and aesthetics, and presented both classical and modern dances.

The company's two dozen artists have been variously trained in tai chi, martial arts, Chinese Opera movements, modern dance, ballet, calligraphy and meditation.

Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan was the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese-speaking community.

Last year Shanghai audiences watched the theater's "Cursive," which draws choreographic ideas from Chinese calligraphy.

Speaking of "Songs of Wanderers," Lin has said he choreographed the dance as a meditation about his own trip to Bodhgaya in Bihar, India, where Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree.

"I don't know when the name Bodhgaya first entered my mind," Lin said. "For a few years I wanted to go there badly, even if I didn't know what I would do once I got there. I only knew it was in Bodhgaya that Buddha attained his enlightenment."

In the summer of 1994 he booked a ticket, and the dance sprang from that trip.

In 2008 the dance theater in Taipei was badly damaged by fire. Next month construction starts on a new center that will house four theaters, a number of training rooms and other facilities. Students in dance summer camp will receive lessons there.

The company that tours worldwide also gives free outdoor performances several times a year, drawing audiences of up to 60,000 per performance.

Date: April 22-24, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 180-880 yuan

Tel: 6854-1234


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