Last Sunday, my friends and I went to the Chang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall to watch the last performance of Cloud Gate’s “Dream of the Red Chamber.“
For those not from Taiwan, the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre is the pride of Taiwan, hailed by many critics around the world as one of the best dance troupes ever. Many Taiwanese friends say that you’ve never really experienced Taiwan until you’ve seen a Cloud Gate performance.
This made me curious of the hype — is Cloud Gate as good as they say it would be? Or is it merely overrated?
That was one of the reasons why I attended the concert at CKS Hall. First, it was free (Cloud Gate tickets cost thousands of NT$!). And second, I’d like to see what the big deal was all about.
So despite my headache of having a 4 1/2-hour marathon brunch with some friends, I proceded to meet my friends at the CKS Hall for some Cloud Gate extravaganza.
The performance was the “Dream of the Red Chamber,” based on one of the oldest Chinese literature. Very very famous text.
So famous that I felt so stupid of not even knowing what it was!
Oh well, you live… you learn.
Anyway, as Chinese tragic stories go, it tells of a big, affluent Chinese family whose son falls in love with a woman. However, like the stereotypical Chinese families everywhere, of course, the parents disapproved of his choice, and wanted him to marry someone else instead.
Sigh, don’t Chinese parents EVERY learn?!
Every time, they just love to meddle on their children’s business! Even in the Philippines, Chinese parents always have a say on their children’s choices of partners.
No wonder many Chinese kids are miserable.
But I digress.
Anyway, because of his parents’ unapproval, the spineless son somehow hooked up with the woman his parents approved of. *Now, as you’ve noticed, most Chinese kids seem to be cowards too… never standing up to their parents and declaring, ‘This is my life! You can’t tell me what to do!‘ Of course, this is understandable since they run the risk of being disinherited from a huge amount of mulah*
I digress again! Aaargh.
Anyway, back to the topic.
Because of heart-brokenness, the girl dies somehow *as most tragic stories go, someone has to die* most likely in sadness… and seeing the cruel fate of his lover, the son became a monk. By this time, his family sunk into poverty, and this is shown in the dance.
And so the story goes…
But of course, I didn’t really see the rest of the story because at the end of the first half, my boyfriend and I took a relaxing walk around the CKS Memorial *this place remains one of our most favorite places in Taiwan* and decided to go home instead to finish “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (original version) and “The Princess Bride.”
We felt that these movies made more sense.
I know, I know.
So shoot us.
From this experience, I’ve realized something…
I’m not as cultured or high-class as I would like to think. 🙁
If I was cultured enough, I would’ve stayed and finished the show. And like many Taiwanese, after the show was over, I would’ve clapped and clapped till my hands would hurt — even though I have no freaking idea what the whole performance was all about.
While we were watching the first half, we asked our friends if they had a clue on what was being shown on stage.
Kaori shrugged her pretty shoulders and said, “No, none at all.“
Gareth, a new friend that my boyfriend made that day, said that this was the high price of torture… este culture. 😀
He said that to improve one’s sense of culture, you’d have to just stick around and bear the pain of watching a show you don’t fully understand, so that you can say that you’ve finished a Cloud Gate performance.
Since my boyfriend and I couldn’t make heads or tails about the performance, we didn’t feel like we’d like to waste our time sticking around. Mind you, this is just our personal opinion, so please, don’t take it as an insult to your intelligence if you think Cloud Gate is great and all that.
This is how I see it.
Art is art.
Either you like it… or you don’t.
Everyone’s taste is relative, and frankly, Cloud Gate just wasn’t me — regardless on how much praise the media and the critics have lavished on this dance troupe.
I know I’m merely an ignorant foreigner, but I prefer shows with a story.
And if that makes me ‘uncultured,’ so be it.
It just wasn’t my taste, that’s all.
And despite what Lin Hwai-Min was quoted saying at the Taipei Times that “dance is not to tell any story. Dance is dance,” I still prefer stories.
So yes, Cloud Gate was an experience to watch. At least, I can finally say to friends that I have caught a glimpse of one of Taiwan’s finest dance companies.
But don’t count me to become a fanatic anytime soon.
Good show though… if you were one of the many who enjoyed it, good for you!
But forgive me for being one of those uncultured beings who prefer to watch CSI or National Geographic, than a Cloud Gate performance.
You can sue me now.
Current state of being: Sad. 🙁
First, my boyfriend will leave tonight for a monthlong vacation to the US. I’m sure that I’ll miss his presence, his comfort and his awesome hugs and encouragement.
Secondly, some issues have popped up in my organization. Namely, a similar organization have decided to organize a trip to Green Island, on the same date as us.
Frankly, I’m pissed.
But I have to be diplomatic about it, because how I react to this current event will determine whether or not there’s going to be bad blood between us and that organization. I’d like to keep the peace though, but they have to be careful what they say and do.
And thirdly, I have concerns on the other projects my organization has.
God, hope I can weather the storm. And the additional pressure of being alone on this, is terrible. 🙁