Inlet Dance Theatre Hio Lin Chuang, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
The installation and performances of My Body is Our Body at SPACES Gallery aptly represented the culmination of the unique three-month collaboration between Taiwanese artist Hui Lin Chuang and the contemporary Inlet Dance Theatre.
The result was an undulating composition of bodies and light, interacting with Chuang’s fantastical human forms. Based on a writing by Chuang of the same name, the work is in homage to the concept of the dance company and to Inlet specifically.
“After I observed their regular rehearsal,” says Chuang, “My Body is Our Body suddenly appeared in my mind. I saw how individuals become community through choreography, how they change their attention from themselves to each other. A dancer’s body has to understand and trust the other bodies.”
My Body is Our Body included a host of Chuang’s meticulously crafted paper cutouts illuminated by points of light. The resulting fluid shadows became performers in their own right while the dancers represented disconnected entities that eventually find unity and connection.
“There were sometimes two, three or four people moving together in these shapes that move and grow,” says Inlet member Michelle Sipes of the work, adding that the forms were akin to a “human organism-type sculpture.”
Chuang attended the company’s regular rehearsals to inform her interactive components while the company developed corresponding movements. As Sipes put it, the process naturally built upon itself. Chuang would observe Inlet’s sessions, then create images to which the dancers would react. Sketches became paper silhouettes; improvisation transformed into formal choreography.
“It was a multi-tiered collaboration and inspiration process,” Sipes says of the symbiotic effort.
Chuang took more away from Cleveland than the artistic experience. She met any number of Clevelanders during her frequent RTA trips. “It’s a very friendly city,” says Chuang. “People will help each other.”
She also found time to shop for Taiwanese groceries in Asiatown and engage in the arts community, visiting places such as Zygote Press, Waterloo Arts District, the Sculpture Center and Cleveland Print Room. The re-adaptation of the city’s industrial buildings into modern cultural meccas took her by surprise. “Visual arts, performance arts,” says Chuang, “(they) really have some power to connect the city.”
Chuang made some connections of her own by way of her artistic process.
“She notices how light is casting a shadow, what the air smells like in that moment, the temperature and interactions between people,” says Bill Wade, Inlet’s founder and executive/artistic director. “She has changed my vantage point on what being observant is about.”
Hui Lin Chuang Installation / Inlet Dance Theatre Perfomance at SPACES Gallery: 6:30 – 9 pm May 12 and 13