Monday, August 15, 2005

Cloud Gate Dance Theater

Last night Cloud Gate Dance Theater gave a free outdoors performance of Dream of the Red Chamber. It was the sort of self-consciously beautiful balletic material that in all its manifestations puts me to sleep. Vast scale, sky-high production values, stunning costumes, rampant virtuosity but... ho hum. I've seen it before.

I'd have loved to love Cloud Gate. I gather that not all of their work is so staid, and I was hoping for something more daring.

The most remarkable thing was the size of the crowd -- thousands upon thousands of people, all assembled on a warm summer night to take in a bit of modern dance. Most people (me included) had to sit so far from the front that they were forced to watch the Jumbotrons instead of the stage. It was like going to a Rolling Stones concert, except the audience was sober and not so old.

I was shocked to learn today that Lin Hwai-min, Cloud Gate's founder, is not only an internationally acclaimed figure in dance but also a graduate of the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, with several published novels to his credit. Who ever heard of such a thing? I didn't like Dream of the Red Chamber very much but I have to say I'm impressed with Mr. Lin's achievements.

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