Lin Hwai-min b. 1947
Cursive (2001)
Running Time: 61 minutes

Cursive is a lyrical dance with its title and movement ideas inspired by Chinese calligraphy.

Cursive is the result of a long journey into ancient practice of movement and spirituality. Under the direction of choreographer Lin Hwai-min, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan has been exploring traditional Chinese body disciplines.

In 2001, Lin Hwai-min further explored the possibilities of Tai Chi Tao Yin and martial arts, and created Cursive, with its title derived from Chinese calligraphy. After studying Chinese calligraphy masterpieces, Lin found, despite the differences in styles, all the brush works share one common element: the focused energy with which the calligraphers "danced" during writing. The exercise produced unimaginable movements, from subtle slow motions to martial-arts-like attacks with powerful energy.

The look of Cursive, however, is contemporary. Dancers dressed in black perform on a stage covered with white marley, just like black ink on white rice paper. Video and slide projections on several gigantic white screens serve as the only set for the work. For each scene, screens change to either reveal black drapes upstage or hang in mid-air. Calligraphy is the sole content of the projections. Close-ups of characters by master calligraphers are beautiful and abstract, defying the meaning of the characters but echoing the energy flow of the dancers.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan was founded in 1973 as the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese speaking community. Directed by internationally renowned choreographer Lin Hwai-min, Cloud Gate transforms ancient aesthetics into thrilling modern celebrations of motion.

With frequent appearances in the international arts festivals, including the Next Wave Festival, Cloud Gate has received high acclaims throughout the world. Among them, Cursive: A Trilogy was elected as the "best dance choreography" of 2006 by Ballet-Tanz and Theaterheute, Germany

Founder and Artistic Director of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Lin Hwai-min is heralded as "the most important choreographer in Asia" (Berliner Morgenpost) and "unchallenged giant in Asia... one of the greats of the twentieth century" (South China Morning Post, Hong Kong). He draws his inspiration from Asian cultures and aesthetics to create works with contemporary resonance which has prompted the Dance Europe to acclaim: "No company in the world dances like Cloud Gate. It presents a distinct and mature Chinese choreographic language. The importance of this evolution in Asian dance is no less profound than the impact of Forsythe's Ballett Frankfurt on European classical ballet."

In addition to receiving rave reviews internationally for his choreography, Lin is also a recipient of many awards and honors, including "Choreographer of the 20th Century" by Dance Europe and "Personalities of the Year" by Ballet International; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Department of Culture of New York City; the Joyce Award of Chicago; the 1999 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the so called "Nobel Prize of Asia;" and the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award. In 2005 Lin Hwai-min was honored by Times as one of the "Asia's Heroes." In 2008, Lin was awarded the "Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters," which is one of the highest cultural awards bestowed from the French Ministry of Culture in recognition of significant contributions to the arts and culture. In 2009, the International Movimentos Dance Award, jointly founded by the European TV channels ARTE and ZDF, and Autostadt / Volkswagen AG., honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Cursive was the opening attraction of this summer's annual American Dance Festival, and the festivities could not have gotten off to a lovelier start. —The New York Times

Lin Hwai-min draws with the bodies of his dancers a new artwork, fed by the same energy that generations of Chinese calligraphers used in pushing their ink brushes. Every other artistic expression pales in comparison to the physical art that emerges out of the combination of lighting… projection of classical and modern calligraphy in an always new and changing window… Lin Hwai-min's choreographic strength, fantasy, and physical commitment of the dancers. —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

What an undertaking: without imitating the flow of the paintbrush through dance, without having the body track the long dried-out script, without just tracing the sense of drawing, he creates an erotic connection between the body of a drawn symbol and the body of a dancer. Out of the silent strength of their improvisational movement, the dancers conjure an unbelievable technical ability that, immersed in the classically strong lighting of designer Chang Tsan-tao, becomes an optical entrapment. Not one-second do you turn your head from the scene.—Süddeutsche Zeitung

[source:National Centre for the Performing Arts]