23 years ago, Taiwanese dancer Lin Lee-Chen broke her retirement to create Legend Lin Dance Theatre. A decorated dancer with a meaningful career behind her, she had stepped away from the stage in order to devote herself to her family, but quickly found herself concerned about the decline of traditional Taiwanese culture. She decided to do something about it, and began her own dance company, creating large-scale work inspired by the local religious rituals and ceremonial rites of her home.
“There were still dreams in my heart,” says Lee-Chen on her return to dance. “I received much support and encouragement, like tides pushing me to be ready for it.”
The presence of tidal imagery in Lee-Chen’s mind is no surprise, as the show bringing her to Vancouver is devoted to the water that surrounds the island of Taiwan.
Eternal Tides marks the Canadian debut of Legend Lin Dance Theatre, and what better theme than that of the power of water to bring a show to our rainy, ocean-bound city?
“The core value of Eternal Tides is delivering the balance of life and the natural environment. Life pertains not only to humans, but also objects. These two elements should live together in symbiosis,” says Lee-Chen. “The bonds between humans and the environment are connected through water.”
The story is about the life cycle of the tide, as represented through a white bird. “the White Bird represents the soul of water, from the vapour in clouds, transforming to rain, falling into rivers, and eventually flowing back to the sea. Over the course of this cycle, it integrates the elements of life, bringing seeds to prosperity and reflecting the circle of life in the universe.”
While one could argue that all dance is embodied poetry, Lee-Chen’s work is especially recognized for its poetic qualities. So much so, that as part of her residency in the PuSh Festival, she will lead a workshop called Poetry in Motion.
She explains this distinction given to her work through her focus on breath as a connection point to her dancers’ genuine state: “Breathing is the start of dancing. Hence, in our dance group, breathing and concentration are very important… dancing is not limited to a particular form. It should not be narrowly defined. On the contrary, it is the key to approaching the inner self in everyone.”
For Lee-Chen, Eternal Tides is a culmination of her past projects which includes a trilogy in tribute to heaven (Miroirs de Vie), earth (Hymne aux Fleurs Qui Passent), and man (Songs of Pensive Beholding).
“This work is the essence of my 23-year dance experiences, an examination of my life and the recall of transmutation. The use of sounds, spaces and body language of the previous works were refined in this work. Therefore, the creation of the Eternal Tides is extremely difficult because of the re-dissolution, like the White Bird, to have a brand new start.”
Eternal Tides plays on February 3 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre as part of the 2018 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Visit https://pushfestival.ca for tickets and information.