Ming-Hwa Yeh

Catching my breath without oxygen.

A strange coincidence that my last post here was about breathing, too. Or maybe not, as breathing is such a central part of my work.
Last week choreographer Ming-Hwa Yeh (葉名樺) invited me to join her for a late-night performance on the roof of the Wellspring Spa hotel in Yilan. Because of our travels, we had no time to rehearse except for the day itself. It was to be an adaptation of several performances we had done in previous years. We used plastic before, so she brought large sheets of plastic again. And she asked me to spread out the plastic on the water with her, then swim under it and come up. I then was trapped in a space where no fresh air entered.
Breathing out enlarged the space around my head a bit. Breathing in pulled the plastic back. As soon as the plastic closed off my mouth that was it (or almost, sometimes): no more air.
This was a very fun way for me to use breathing techniques. I first developed those as a kid, when I swam almost every day, or even several times a day. Later I learnt more from overtone singing, which naturally lowers the frequency of your breathing and induces a more controlled breathing. And later again from yoga and finally pranayama.
In the last 10 years I discovered all the games I can do with my kids in the swimming pool. Like playing dead: I completely relax my body, face down into the water. They start to move me up to get my head out of the water (too heavy) or push down and stand on my back (easier). Either way I would often stay under water for a minute, if possible.
Ming-Hwa, on the contrary, cannot swim – she never learnt it. And yet she made herself look convincing in the water, as if she could swim. And she had no fear of the water even when I pulled her to swim underwater (maybe I was more scared than she was) .
This is an almost one-off performance: last week for the press, we repeat it next week for the public. What a great way to stay in a hotel with a sky-high swimmingpool and the Pacific Ocean with Turtle Island/Guishan (龜山島) as a backdrop.
(Photo credit: Alvis Lai)

December 5/6: Nordic by Ming-Hwa Yeh


We are embarking on an epic journey this weekend in a 3-hour multi-media/dance performance entitled Nordic, created and choreographed by Ming-Hwa Yeh. Nordic is part of the 3-week festival Points on Stage at Songyue Lab, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. We began working on this piece in autumn 2014, and presented a work-in-progress in December 2014, with dancer En Chen, who now joined Cloudgate and is replaced by Wu-kang Chen.

Ming-Hwa writes:

Nordic is a work inspired by Natural, the moment I was moved and shaken by the unlimited power of nature, the unity of man and nature. Human beings live in the realm of nature, we are constantly surrounded by it and interact with it. But somehow in the busy bustling life, we are so easily to forget.”

The current version of  Nordic is a long, immersive meditation on this relationship between man and nature. Its dramatic arch moves between extremes of the quiet and un-spectacular (like a vast landscape with nothing much happening but a gently blowing breeze) and bursts of activity, overpowering and aggresive (like an avalanche). Much revolves around the deep structures of human experience throughout its evolution: those of space and time. It confronts us with the naked, and sometimes perplexing truths of our lives unfolding in time, and our bodies moving in space.

The spectators move freely in the space: they can walk, stand, sit or lie down as they like. The music is partly electronic, created by SHENG, partly live, by Mark van Tongeren, on voice and various instruments. Video forms an integral part of several sections of the performance and was created by Adrianne Chiu.

Choreographer/ Ming-Hwa Yeh
Performer/ Ming-Hwa Yeh, Wu-kang Chen, Mark van Tongeren, 晟│SHENG
Stage Designer/ Yu-Ting Tung
Lighting Designer/ Kuo-chien Hung
Video Designer/ Adrianne Chiu

Time|12/5(六) 16:00、12/6(日)16:00
Where|Songshan Cultural and Creative Park /LAB創意實驗室(東向製菸工廠2樓)
Tickets|NT $500 (http://ppt.cc/Ctkdm) or (http://goo.gl/forms/kMOQwPiZB7)

編舞/概念 葉名樺
戲劇顧問 鄒之牧
演出者 葉名樺、陳武康、Mark van Tongeren、晟│SHENG
人聲泛唱 Mark van Tongeren
裝置設計 董育廷
音樂設計 晟│SHENG
燈光設計 郭建宏
影像設計 Adrianne Chiu
聲音技術 杜易昂
視覺攝影 李欣哲
演出紀錄 陳冠宇
專案行政 陳春春
陪伴創作顧問 高俊宏(視覺藝術家)

活動場次|12/5(六) 16:00、12/6(日)16:00

*宣傳片拍攝剪輯 陳冠宇