Cloudgate – Annual Outdoor Performance

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Cloudgate - and our sunshine account in the red

Cloudgate (雲門舞集) are an institution in Taiwan; and one of its most treasured cultural exports. Combining traditional Asian and Chinese motifs, they combine them in extraordinary ways, mixing digital media, human-scale calligraphy, old folk tales and contemporary dance. It’s always a challenge to get seats for their performances in Taiwan, since they are so often on the road abroad, but they have an annual open-air performance; this year at least in the grounds of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, and in the shadow of the National Theatre.

Seats were first-come-first-serve, so Yuyin and I wandered over a couple of hours early, camping mat in hand and laid out a pretty good plot for our friends that were planning on joining later. Taipei for once served up a rather splendid sunset, and we enjoyed hanging out in an unusual environment with kids running around and old people bisecting the audience loaded with shopping bags on their way home – hilarious.

With the clock counting down, Abe, Lin and Steve arrived packing fizzy wines, cheeses, hams and a plethora of treats; if we were going to do this, we were going to do this in style! We were certainly the only ones I saw drinking out of about 10,000 people, quaffing out of champagne glasses and getting increasingly giddy as the evening progressed.

The dance? I give the troupe full respect for not holding back, and not pandering to the lowest common denominator; the accompanying audio and performance were challenging, and at moments poignant and beautiful. The strength, stamina and control on display were extraordinary – and that for us just sitting still on a camping mat for two hours.

Sitting in the shadow of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Yuyin at work!

The girl with the sun in her hair

Sugar wouldn't melt in her mouth

Enjoying an afternoon in the sun

Abe arrives with a basket of style


The warmup was hilarious - 10,000 people doing stretches; try this in the UK and you would get beer cans full of piss thrown at the stage - only half joking.


Looking down at the amphitheatre down below

Steve inspects the door ... need one of these in my next place


Check out this video here which introduces the performance we saw:

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