A visual story of renewal, life and nature

Photo by Chin Cheng Tsai

The PuSh Festival is underway, and with it comes the opportunity to see a vast array of original multi-disciplinary performances. One of the main stage shows at this year’s festival is The Eternal Tides, a mixture of dance and music that brings culture and customs from Taiwan across the ocean to Vancouver.

The Eternal Tides marks the Canadian debut of internationally acclaimed choreographer Lin Lee-Chen, who for the last four decades has been a leading figure in the Taiwanese performing arts community. She founded her repertory company – the Legend Lin Dance Theatre – over twenty years ago, and since then has continued to showcase the spirit and culture of Taiwan on the stage, with her latest creation set to grace the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 3rd.

The Eternal Tides is made up of nine chapters,” says Lee-Chen, “featuring 17 dancers, two drummers and an excellent performer, Hsu Ching-Chun, one of the most renowned vocalists in Taiwan.”

Lin Lee-Chen, founder of the Legend Lin Dance Theatre.| Photo courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Taiwan

The principal dancers in this performance have been working with the Legend Lin Dance Theatre for over ten years, including Wu Ming-Jing, the lead female dancer, who has been with the dance troupe for fifteen years. The experienced cast and crew of The Eternal Tides will weave a story of life and nature across the stage.

“The core value of The Eternal Tides,” says Lee-Chen, “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.”

Specifically, the performance pays tribute to water; to the ocean that surrounds Taiwan, and to its cycle of renewal.

“Water is pure and innocent,” says Lee-Chen, “no matter how the environment changes, the nature of water stays the same.”

Culture and nature

The Eternal Tides is just as much about Taiwanese culture and ritual as it is about the environment. In fact, Lee-Chen sees the two as strongly connected to each other.

“This performance,” she says, “is not merely affected by traditional culture and ritual in Taiwan, but also by the macro environment. From traditional indigenous culture, folk culture, Kunju Opera, Peking Opera, as well as the culture of nature, all of those have intertwined. Thus, culture is deeply affected by the environment.”

With regards to the cultural experience of the show, The Eternal Tides will provide a small snippet of Taiwanese artistic traditions and customs.

Cast and crew of The Eternal Tides.| Photo by Chin Cheng Tsai

“In this work,” says Lee-Chen, “the audience can see the use of plants, the Lion’s Roar instrument, gong bath and chanting. These are typical of Taiwan and often appear in our daily lives.”

Though it is a show with its roots in Taiwan, Lee-Chen sees its overarching themes – of renewal, of life, of nature – as ones that can resonate all around the world.

“Each of us,” she says, “experiences the cycle of birth, aging, sickness and death, those innate desires and emotions, the impermanence of life, passage of time, and the connection between human and nature.”

In the end, Lee-Chen is trying to create something that leaves its viewers with an appreciation for perhaps a different way of seeing the world, as well as a way to connect, compare and even shape their own.

“I hope the audience comes in with a simple heart, enjoys The Eternal Tides as much as possible, and leaves space for their own imagination.”

For more information, visit www.pushfestival.ca.