Floating flowers for his father

Po-Cheng Tsai and his troup B.Dance from Taiwan perform at Suzanne Dellal Center

Po-Cheng Tsai and B.Dance from Taiwan (photo credit: CHOU MO)
Po-Cheng Tsai and B.Dance from Taiwan
(photo credit: CHOU MO)
As a child, Po-Cheng Tsai would attend the annual Ghost Festival with his family. The event, which is celebrated widely throughout Taiwan, the marks the specific day in which ghosts of ancestors emerge from the lower realm into the world of the living. During this day, the full moon of the seventh month on the lunar calendar, people perform rituals in the hopes of being absolved for their wrongdoings. The colorful and varied performances make for an unforgettable scene.
When Tsai’s father passed away, it was the Ghost Festival that came to the young choreographer’s mind. “When he passed away, I thought I have to do something to remember him. The only thing I can do is make a piece and to honor him and remember him. I also this is a present for him and for myself,” explains Tsai via WhatsApp. Currently on tour in Europe, Tsai takes a moment to reflect on the process that brought about Floating Flowers, an ensemble piece choreographed for his company B.Dance.
This month, B.Dance will perform in Israel for the first time. The engagement, which will be hosted by the Suzanne Dellal Center, is supported by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tel Aviv.
Tsai is one of Taiwan’s most ambitious and renowned choreographers. He began dancing at an early age, mostly because he could not tolerate sitting still for any of the lessons his mother took him to. “I couldn’t stop moving. My Mom sent me to learn piano, writing and painting but I couldn’t sit for more than 10 minutes. My mom gave up. Our neighbor suggested, ‘Your kid is very energetic. Why don’t you send him to the dance studio to learn dance?’ And my Mom said, ‘Oh wow! That’s an option.’ So she did. And I started,” he reminisces.
Driven to find his artistic voice, Tsai began choreographing as soon as he finished his professional training at the Taipei National University of the Arts. “Before I created my own company, I created short pieces,” he says. “I needed to create my own style and find our language and I thought it’s a good opportunity to make talented people to work together. I established my company so that I could make a longer piece in the future and keep those talented people together.”
B.Dance quickly won a place in Taiwanese culture. Tsai’s works blend traditional elements with contemporary influences garnered during his time working as a dancer in Europe. “European culture is very different than Taiwanese culture, and of course my work has been inspired by it and all the people I’ve met over the years have inspired me in a different way.”
In his choreographies, Tsai begins by drawing on his dancers. He then molds the inspiration they have passed on to him into a set composition, which is transferred back to them. By the time a work hits the stage, it is about 90 percent set and 10% open to interpretation or improvisation. “My dancers have to be physically strong but more than that, they have to have a very strong personality. That is far more important to me than their technique,” he explains.
This year, the company will celebrate its fifth anniversary. Tsai will commemorate the occasion with both a new work and a new home for B.Dance. “We are working on a new creation called Innermost and it will premiere to celebrate our birthday in December. Also, we are working on having our own dance studio; to have a warm home with all our B.Dancers.”
The tour to Israel allows Tsai to revel in his favorite element of being a choreographer, traveling and exposing his work to new audiences. “I love to meet new people, to meet new cultures and see new places. I love to travel with my dancers and present my work around the world. That is truly the best thing about this work.”
B.Dance will perform Floating Flowers at the Suzanne Dellal Center on April 14 and 15. For more information, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il.