Kuei-Chuan Yang Proves That Modern Dance Is Sometimes Traditional


Modern dance was made in America—we proudly claim its inventors as our own. But Kuei-Chuan Yang swept into the country with her Assembly Dance Theater of Taiwan, redefining our assumptions of “modern.” It’s a shame that the Duke was less than half full—we New Yorkers could learn a lot from choreographer Yang, whose maneuvers are serene while daredevil-athletic, Eastern in a uniquely Western way. This stunning dichotomy is most eloquently expressed in her Gift, by seven dancers holding Taiwanese objects used to communicate with God—made of wood, and resembling red quarter-moons—while they quivered, dropped to their knees, and landed from jumps with their noses barely an inch from the floor. Yang glues the postmodern phenomenon of release technique to minimalist isolations that feel like ancient tradition. In another work, Lily, her narration in Mandarin contributed to the mood but left English-only spectators at sea.

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