- Lucy Ribchester
- 12 August 2019
This article is from 2019
Exhilarating dance, rooted in a Buddhist festival of lanterns
The burning intensity of this piece from Taiwanese choreographer Po-Cheng Tsai and company B. Dance could be down to its roots in a Buddhist ceremony, which Po-Cheng attended as a child along with his father. But there is no heavy zealotry dragging down these floating flowers – the piece feels crystal clear and as airy as its title.
Some of this could be down to the costumes, marvellous creations of diaphanous muslin, framed into skirts with crinolines, representing the lanterns on water which form part of the ceremony. The cast shake, billow, lift and disappear into these at various points, as well as using them to create giants out of two dancers (one perched on another's shoulders).
Though the momentum never seems to stop, there are thoughtful variations in tempo, from careful flicking hand gestures and exquisitely paced, petal-opening arms, to flashing spirals of Shaolin speed.
Solo dances come into focus while the ensemble retreats into the shadows, or sometimes a dancer will take the stage alone, commanding our attention as they retreat into some kinetic prayer. Though the expressions of the cast remain serious throughout, the piece never feels sombre – and as if to remind us of this, at one point a dancer playfully wiggles her hands in a childlike taunt as she runs offstage.
Even in its most fiery, frantic passages, there is a clean beauty to the choreography. It's exhilarating, and breathtakingly executed.
Dance Base, until 25 Aug (not 12, 19), 3.30pm, £13 (£11).