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Cloud Gate to make Venice Int'l Contemporary Dance Festival debut

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A dancer performs against the backdrop of a screen showing an AI-generated image in "Waves." Photo courtesy of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre

New Taipei, Feb. 25 (CNA) The Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan will make its debut at the International Festival of Contemporary Dance in Venice as part of its 2024 overseas tours showcasing four works.

In Venice on July 18-19, Cloud Dance will perform its 50th-anniversary production "Waves," according to Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍), the dance troupe's choreographer and artistic director.

It will be the 2023 piece's overseas premiere because organizers of the Venetian dance festival said they wanted to show Cloud Gate's newest work, Cheng told a reporter at a press event in New Taipei Thursday.

Cheng works with Japanese new artist Daito Manabe, who has been involved in creating dance works with artificial intelligence.

Manabe captured Cloud Dance dancers' movements and processed them with AI to generate physical moves for Cheng and the dancers to explore different ways to use the body.

Cheng told reporters the biggest challenge for the performances in Venice is to adapt to the stage, which has a 3-degree slope, like most old theaters in Italy.

Another of Cheng's pieces that will have its overseas premiere during the tour is "Sounding Light," his first new work after he succeeded Cloud Gate founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民) in 2020, according to the dance troupe.

Dancers went through vocal training and provided part of the sounds of nature they mimicked during the piece, as Cheng said at the time that he was seeking to explore the use of vocal sound.

A performance of "Sounding Light" will open the Weimar Art Festival in Germany on Aug. 24-25, according to Cloud Gate.

Cheng said the German festival's organizers were not expecting what they saw on the stage, describing the 2020 piece as very timely as people explore their relation with the environment, amid the climate change.

The dance troupe will then perform "Sounding Light" in Dresen on Aug. 30-31

Before the two pieces' overseas premiere, Cloud Gate will fulfill a promise and stage "Lunar Halo" during the Montpellier Danse Festival in France, which first planned to host the piece in 2019 following its premiere tour in Taiwan that year, Cheng said.

The piece inspired by the phenomenon of a ring of light around the moon Cheng observed during a trip to Iceland, will be staged at the French festival on June 28-30.

Before the trip to the French festival, Cloud Gate is set to embark on a three-city tour of "Lunar Halo" in Taiwan in March, starting with four sold-out performances in Taipei from March 7-10.

"Lunar Halo" was named by Britain's Telegraph newspaper as one of the five "Best of 2023 Dance" performances after it was staged at London's Sadler's Well Theatre on Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, Cheng said.

The newspaper praised the piece as "a luminously and bleakly beautiful take on the internet-infested 21st century."

Meanwhile, Cloud Gate's first overseas performance this year is to present "13 Tongues" for the opening of the Dublin Dance Festival on May 14-15, after a tour of the piece in France and Spain in December, including the 100th performance of the 2016 work at the Festival De Danse Cannes in France.

The piece by Cheng was inspired by the bustling street scenes and religious events from his childhood memories in Taipei's old town of Wanhua District in the 1980s, according to the dance troupe.

The colorful piece features music by award-winning Taiwanese composer Lim Giong (林強), who combined modern and Taiwanese folk music with incantations.

It was most recently staged in Tenerife, Spain on Dec. 21 last year at the conclusion of Cloud Gate's five-week European tour.

The dance group will take "13 Tongues" and "Lunar Halo" on a tour in the United States and Canada in October and November, it said.


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