Friday 16 March 2012


I sent YaTin a message on Facebook a few weeks ago to invite her to come for tea and present her some of my upcoming projects, especially the play. FangYi told me that she knew everyone in the performing art world in Taipei and therefore could be very helpful. During the company dinner before Chinese New Year, we had vaguely mentioned about a possible appointment a week later, but nearly two months have rushed by before anything was settled.
"Okay, with pleasure, I'll bring some cakes!" she wrote back. 
I was surprised when I saw her climb up the stairs to my flat. Her hair was curly. 
"Oh, you changed you hairstyle..." I said tentatively. "It wasn't curly last time I saw you, was it?" She passed her hand through her hair. "Yes, I had it permed recently.
As I was preparing tea I asked her if she had any news from FangYi.
"Oh it's hard to keep up with her! She's touring everywhere! She is in New York now, isn't she?". I knew that, since I had sent her the revised versions of Just and the completed music for JJJ. I still don't know whether Just will be part of the big performances she will have in October at the National Theatre.
"And when did you last see her?" I asked. "It must be around November!" I startled. November? I saw YaTin at a company dinner with FangYi and all the dancers just before Chinese New Year... The YaTin present in my flat wasn't the one I thoughtI was inviting. Indeed this other YaTin was also closely connected to dance, since she had a teaching position at the Taipei University of the Arts in Guandu. Whence my confusion. To me, they were the same person.
We sat down. I tried to bring the conversation to some common ground. Yes, I remembered that she had asked me to attend to join a panel discussion about my collaborative project with Huang Yi and Yu-teh (to talk about Second Skin, not Symphony Project) at the WDA World Dance Alliance and daCi (Dance and the Child International) conference at the campus in July. I shed some light about the way I worked and approached the creative process, also about the differences between me and Huang Yi in our past collaborations. 
But Huang Yi said he wasn't even sure he would be able to join the panel discussion, in which case there was no point for me to attend.
I reached a blank space. I was running short of idea. I had only exchanged a few emails with YaTin but not enough to feel comfortable sitting in front of her in my house, eating cake and drinking tea...
Then it dawned on me... What if shared my ideas about master classes and workshops for dance and music students from the art university? She was the perfect person to help make it become reality. She listened with great interest and her enthusiasm grew as I told her about my ideas.
The question remained how. Make a proposal. Talk to the dean. Meet the other teachers... 
"Do you think you could come and help one of my students on his piece?" YaTin asked. "They're having a graduation show in one month and I think your input would be most welcome."
I immediately accepted. I had never done that before, but that was a perfect way to introduce myself and what I do to them. 
"By the way, most of them have seen NINA so they know who you are and will be even more interested" she added.

A few days later, she picked me at the MRT station and drove me to university. Guandu. Familiar territory, since that's where I spent three months or so working on Auntie four years ago.
We arrived in the middle of the rehearsal. YaTin had not talked to the students so I saw their stare that they were wondering who I was. A few words later we were in the midst of it. I followed my intuition and would stop them each time I felt there was something to work on. The dancing was good, very good, although the choice of music and the movements were predictable: the aria from the Goldberg Variations complete with rain soundscape, release technique, dancers running across the stage... But the potential was there. The student / choreographer was barely twenty...

I don't know what has been happening to me since the beginning of the year, I feel like everything is possible. On Chinese New Year's Eve, I went to the BaoAn temple which is located very near my flat. It's the oldest temple in Taiwan, I have been told, and I enjoy visiting it regularly. Of course, since it was Chinese New Year, it was much more crowded than usual. I paid my respect to the gods and divinities (I enjoy this return to a polytheist culture - history has demonstrated too well that people aren't mature and wise enough to understand and embrace a monotheist religion.) As I stood in front of one of the altars, I heard a voice telling me that I had to plant eggs.
The idea was curious. "Yes, plant eggs!" the voice went on. "Don't hesitate to diversify your activity." In my head, I saw a map with an intricate network of green coloured roads.
"You can hear the spirits! It's great" Jay said later, when I told him about the experience.
"I think I have always been able to. But I thought it was me thinking - or losing my mind!"
"Actually, they use your own thoughts and words to communicate with you" he explained.
I was surprised, because I thought the experience was of a more mystical dimension. I tried a few other times to check whether it wasn't a figment of my imagination. I'm aware that people reading this will indeed think that I have gone round the bend now!

No comments:

Post a Comment