Da-Guan Dance Theater is lopsided.
The company from the National Taiwan University of the Arts, which danced on Sunday at The Egg, is an ensemble of technically fine dancers. The troupe of 14 skillfully combines folk art with ballet, circus and martial arts to create a colorful homage to humanity and nature.
The imbalance is wrought by having too few men. The four Da-Guan males are adept, even exciting. They can flip and fling themselves through the air, able acrobats all. But their dynamic tricks can’t compare to the synchronized cast of women who, dancing as a corps, created flowing scenarios that bring to mind wind and waves, power and purity. And perfection.
The women, with their hefty number, swell; thus hypnotize with their fluttering fans and twirling umbrellas that they efficiently deploy into undulating visions. “Breeze” with the vibrant-colored umbrellas that looked like seedlings floating in the wind, and “Lotus Flowers” were fans flowed, were gorgeous as they constantly transformed from one image of nature to another.
The women were also amazing in “Women’s Power.” Set to drums and cast in red, the rhythmic dance emphasized the oft-dismissed, but inherent strength of the female. Again, there was potency behind their sum and their ability to dance precisely as one.
The men were at a disadvantage too because they had trouble harmonizing. That dissonance weakened their group works, such as the dramatic “Prayers to Heaven.” “Breaking the Cloud,” in which they wielded poles, was their best work as they were able to pull together as a team.
All appeared regal in the opening number – the quiet and atmospheric “Mother Earth.” The lighting was exquisite, referencing the rising and setting sun that lent a glow to the parade of dancers in long-flowing skirts.
Not all was pretty. “Joyful Childhood” was overdone and too cute. “Seven Flowers,” with the women carrying red kerchiefs, did not rise to same intriguing level of the other all-female dances.
The night ended with “Impressions of Hills,” a pulsating dance with sticks and poles that brought the whole cast joyously together – a sweet send-off to the Taiwanese heritage that they so warmly preserve.
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