ADF: TAO Dance Theater | Duke Campus: Reynolds Industries Theater | Stage | Indy Week
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Tao Dance Company

Photo by Jin Hai

Tao Dance Company

ADF: TAO Dance Theater 

When: June 20-22, 8 p.m. 2011
Phone: 919-684-6402
Price: $21-28

Tao Dance Company, a young Chinese modern dance group that will be in residency during the American Dance Festival, makes its U.S. premiere this week on the stage at Reynolds Theater. But were those growing pains we witnessed in the video for the initially scheduled work, Weight x 3? That triptych of the company's initial works featured dancer Duan Ni's admittedly mesmerizing mid-work solo—one in which she kept a long staff continuously spinning above and around her form for 20 improbable minutes. That work, however, was bookended by duets at beginning and end that seemed to hit plateaus before their conclusions.

Then we learned that the company had decided to drop the work from its ADF program. The word came immediately following the world premiere of the company's latest work, 2, at the Singapore Arts Festival. In its first minutes, 2 nearly suggests a choreographic version on Warhol's movie Sleep. The stillness of choreographers Tao Ye and Duan Ni's prone bodies on stage is intermittently punctuated by adjustments of the arms, legs and torsos to the white noise and dramatic dynamic shifts in composer Xiao He's electronic score. But as 2 develops, what seems to be a roaming energy arcs freely through the dancers' bodies, animating their various parts, relocating them in its trajectories. We've seen Shen Wei, another choreographer from China, explore this impulse, most memorably in works like Connect Transfer.

For that matter, Shen has also investigated still, seemingly sculpted poses similar to the gallery we view here at mid-work. But Tao and Duan appear more interested in the broken planes—the gates and hinges—of the human body than Shen's cooler uninterrupted curves. On the whole, Tao Dance's similarly minimal aesthetic edges seem intentionally a bit rougher. Unresolved at this point: whether the group's deliberately limited movement vocabulary and field of operation (at ground level or just above) effectively sustains our interest during the work's 50 minutes. This show opens Monday and continues through Wednesday, all at 8 p.m. —Byron Woods

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