5 Questions to Tao Ye,
Artistic Director of TAO Dance Theater
Beijing based TAO Dance Theater are returning to London in early October with a double bill including their latest work “8“. A company with a very different perspective on dance performance we wanted to know more from their director – Tao Ye.
Why is it ‘Tao Dance Theatre’ and not ‘Tao Dance Company’? Most theatre companies seem to be about drama and telling stories, but that’s not you, is it?
The exact English translation of the company’s name is supposed to be “TAO Body Theater”. The body is actually the core of our company. Body is the origin, it is the only witness of all the feelings and senses from our birth to death. If we believed the existence of a certain substance, the only material that we could use to prove our belief is the body. When facing a human body, all the moments from the past, future and present would become “NOW” — Dance is to develop and to express every single moment. The body raises a question at this moment, and it will work on and sort out the question in the next moment. The process of creating is connecting all questions to myself and to fight to solve these questions. A dance work contains all human’s senses, music (hearing), visual (seeing), imagination and recognition… When I use the human body as the only element to create my work, I actually have everything. This is what I’m very satisfied with. There are too many things to understand in this world… But the body is real and infinite. When we talk about “experience”, we actually talk about the “experience” that the body has been through. The completion of the “experience” brings us joy and pain, and we feel and embrace/receive, and then transform to the weight of our life and body.
Theater is a public space. My purpose is to present the purity of body language on the stage. Through the ceremony of theatre, the live performance opens up the audiences heart and perception.
Dance is constantly evolving – where would you say you plug into that evolution?
I would say I hope to return to the origin, to discover the purity of body language, to focus on the exploration of “NOW” and to seek the existence in the future.
The new work you are bringing to London is “8” – the final part of the Straight Line Trilogy. What is the Trilogy about and what should people expect to find in watching “8“?
How can put it… I think 8 could be the most “capricious” piece compared with my other works. It seems to be a documentary of the body, observing changes through the four seasons. In 8, the dancers lie instead of standing, thus their bodies are further restricted to the floor and movements are limited to the moving range of their spines. Dancers’ vision is also changed to a horizontal dimension other than a surrounding one. Under this limitation, the ability of dancers’ body can be further explored and freed. So from the audiences frontal view, no heads, arms or legs are spotted except for the torso and the charm of lentitude/slowness are conveyed from the breakthrough of this spine restriction in 8. 8 is a peaceful, original, rational but an abstract piece. It may make the audience feel the true beauty or feel upset or anxious. It is like a mirror which can reflect the true self hiding deep inside.
Why do you number your works and not use descriptive names?
Naming my work in numerical way symbolises the growth of life, year by year, together with the growth of my understanding of life and nature. “Uncertainty” is an independent idea. Numbers simplify the understanding and complication, creating a direct response and pure consciousness. I hope my works would make the audience find their own independent understanding and judgement. In another word: the deeper meaning and the true value of my work is to raise questions to the audience during the live performance.
What’s next for you and what’s your biggest dance wish?
I will start to create “9” but I don’t know whether 9 would be the last piece of my “Number Series”, I’m still thinking about it.