Shou-Yi CHOU "Visible City, People Filled with Air"
Shu-Yi Chou's dance titled "Visible City, People Filled with Air" took place on February 21, 2008 at the Taipei Artist Village and is nominated for a 2008 Taishin Arts Award. In this interview, the young dancer/choreographer discusses his work and how he finds inspiration in daily life.
I had been choreographing since 2003. My first works were selected by National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center's New Idea & Dance Showcase. I wrote the project by myself. At that time I was only 19, so soon after that I started my choreographer's trip. I was very lucky; I worked with several dance companies: the Kaohsiung City Ballet, Assembly Dance Theatre, and Scarecrow Contemporary Dance Company. Besides working with different companies, I try to work with diverse artists such as sound artists, and visual artists. Collaborating with other artists and dancers is fun and satisfying. Yet, I like to work alone too. For me, I need both situations: solo work and with other dance companies, because it is such a different experience.
In 2005, I was invited to be the creative dancer and choreographer of the new company Horse Dance Company. In 2007, I applied for a Taipei Artist Village Residency. My TAV residency helped me focus on returning to my body, and to begin exploring physical spaces with my body.
This year, I will take a break from choreography and leave Taiwan for 8 months to think about what I will do after and think about how I can continue my solo and group work. Fortunately, the Taishin Arts Award nomination gives me great courage to continue, as I am the first independent choreographer to be nominated. However, my nominated work required twelve dancers, who are all freelance.
I have too many artistic influences! In this work, I'm inspired by the city, plus we are inspired by each other. When I first start to choreograph a piece, my initial idea is not visual, but formed gradually. For this work I began with these thoughts: Why do people move around the city? Why do people exist? The being of life can be seen and can be unseen, moving, with no sign of stillness. I see the city. I see the air of people moving. Traveling along the structure of this building, we discover the journey of life. Exploring along the way towards the sky, it is the journey of birth to rebirth. The way people grow is like a structure being built. After the building is completed, a new life would move in and start living. As the building started to be filled by life, it would also be occupied with the boundaries and pressures that life brought along.
I began exploring spaces with my body and discovering the limits and energy from various surroundings. This was how my work at TAV came into being. Accompanied by music from renowned American composer Steve Reich, I experienced the velocity of life. The dancers started from the garden on the first floor of TAV, and moved into the elevator. The audience followed the dancers to the hallway on the third floor. Finally, they walked up a flight of stairs and reached the rooftop and the open sky. The city, Taipei, then became the backdrop of life. We flew out and continued our journeys in searching for a greater future.
-----As told to Susan Kendzulak