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Tao of dance

Updated: 2013-07-18 22:52
By Chen Nan ( China Daily)

Tao of dance

His works have been performed at major venues from the Sydney Opera House to the Lincoln Center, but it is coming home that makes Tao Ye most nervous. Chen Nan sits down with the artiste and talks about his upcoming date with the NCPA.

Tao Ye, the artistic director of Tao Dance Theater, reaches for a cigarette. After a couple of hours on the dance floor, he is soaked to the skin and ready for a break. He flops onto the floor, glad for a respite after hours of dancing in the hot humid summer day. The 28-year-old choreographer is rehearsing his works, named after Arabic numerals, 2 and 4, part of the performance to be staged at the National Center for the Performing Arts.

What challenges him the most is that this is the first time his works are being premiered in his home country.

The five-year-old Tao Dance Theater is known for its unconventional works and has been touring the world since it was founded. Despite the acclaim he has won abroad, Tao says he is unsure about the feedback he will get here.

"We haven't built a connection with audiences in China," he says. "I guess the outcome might not be good because our performances break with conventional aesthetics.

"Though the number of Chinese watching modern dance has grown fast in the last few years, I don't think they have opened their hearts and communicated with the works yet," Tao continues.

"For us, the shows at the NCPA will be a litmus test to see how the audience will react to our works and how advanced the modern dance environment in the country has become."

Widely regarded as one of the most progressive contemporary choreographers in China, Tao is focused on revealing himself in movements and establishing his own order in dance.

His two works, 2 and 4, created years ago and staged hundreds of times around the world is named after digits because "I don't want to give my works a certain name with a few words. Language can deceive and limit the imagination. So I used numerals, simple and free."

The duet, simply named 2, was created in 2005. It shows Tao and co-choreographer Duan Ni repeating rubbing their bodies against the floor. Over a year, they brainstormed ideas on the work and explored the possibilities of using their bodies.

"The whole year was torturous. You couldn't imagine. We couldn't think of any ideas and cried," recalls Tao. "Our clothes were torn because of the constant rubbing on the floor. It was a confrontation between the floor and us."

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