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The 7th Taishin Arts Award Performing Art Nominee

Chun-Hsien WU "Double C Reflex"

Choreographer Chun-Hsien WU created "Reflex" which was performed by his dance company Double C at the Experimental Theatre on May 16, 2008, and is nominated for a 2008 Taishin Arts Award. Here, Wu discusses his new work and his creative process.

My creative process is quite straight-forward. When I begin a new work, I first set a basic concept. This concept contains many questions. It is this set of questions that gets me started on my research. This way of working then produces many possibilities and movements, of which, I then put all together. By setting a theme first, I can then find specific ideas, certain movements, and of course, the appropriate music of which I put all these elements together. Through this process, there is some modification and improvements are made.

The ideas for my dances cook in my daily life; I keep them in my mind all the time from what I to do and find them in my daily life, sometimes I do research from books too. I studied ballet, modern dance, and learned the refined and graceful movements of both the Peking opera and of Tai Chi Chuan. I studied Tai Chi with Master Wei HSIUNG. I also worked with Hwai-Min LIN when I was soloist at the Cloud Gate Dance Company from 1994 to 2000. All these experiences of how to move the body through space informs my work.

I choreographed Reflex in 2006. It was performed by four female dancers from my dance company Double C: I-Fen LIN, Fa-Hsuan CHEN, Chrystel GUILLEBEAUD, and Anne JUNG.

The dance was inspired by my newborn son. I was fascinated by the movements of my baby boy, and by small children, in general. Their behaviour and reactions to their surrounding environment seem instinctual, like reflexes. The human body is equipped with a protection-movement mechanism, our reflexes. Those behavioural sciences include movements which entirely escape our conscious control, and are governed by our nervous system.

In this project, I was researching the field of suspense and tension between the enactments of instinctive reflexes on the one hand, and learned movements on the other. As we get older, our movements are acquired as we are taught how to respond to our outside world. By contrast, I really admire the freshness that small children have in response to their environment and was inspired to put that in my work.

Reflex's simple concept conveyed indirectly through the dancers' movements is to remind ourselves to be fresh to life like a newborn, while the core concept is the tension between instinct and learned reaction. The dance features original ideas and movements derived from daily life transformed into poetic dance movements.

The music was created by Christoph IACONO especially for this dance. It included my son's voice and the dancers' voices set to a dreamy-type score. Costumes by Eva Droste-Wagner and lighting by Jens Piske included the dancers' white costumes against a black light and minimal stage which set a strong emotional tone.

Lastly, since I live in Germany, I didn't know anything about the Taishin Art Awards until they informed me. I found it is really great how it works for this prize, and how they choose and support the artists in Taiwan.

----As told to Susan Kendzulak

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