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UCSB Arts & Lectures Presents Leading Contemporary Dance Company Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan

Lin Hwai-min’s ‘Rice’ follows the life cycle of the essential crop through stunning multimedia human drama. Click to view larger
Lin Hwai-min’s ‘Rice’ follows the life cycle of the essential crop through stunning multimedia human drama. (UCSB Arts & Lectures photo)

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents leading contemporary dance company Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan performing Rice, a multimedia work of human drama and the story of a revered land, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre.

Renowned choreographer Lin Hwai-min, “the most important choreographer in Asia” (Berliner Morgenpost), created the visually stunning Rice in reverence of the land that has nurtured “Asia’s leading contemporary dance theatre” (The Times, U.K.).

A work of devastation and resurrection, Rice is set to a backdrop of the living, breathing rice paddies that make up Taiwan’s expansive panorama; immersed in this landscape, Cloud Gate’s formidable dancers enact a human drama parallel to rice’s life cycle: flooding, sprouting, harvesting and burning rice fields.

On-site recordings of rustling grain, soughing wind and pealing thunder meet folk songs in Hakka, the oldest among the existing Chinese dialects, and operatic arias from the West to make up the soundscape.

A cinematographer spent two years on location documenting the cultivation of rice, capturing images of clouds reflected in the water, rice swaying in the wind and ravaging fire to provide the production’s essential visual elements.

With this awe-inspiring multimedia production, “Lin attains a sharply moving synthesis of man and nature, east and west, death and rebirth” (The Guardian, U.K.).

Inspiration for Rice came from the landscape and story of Chihshang, a farming village in the East Rift Valley of Taiwan. Previously tainted by the use of chemical fertilizer, the village regained its title as the Land of the Emperor’s Rice by adopting organic farming.

Awed by the immense waves of grain rolling across expansive fields of rice and inspired by the environmentally conscious farmers, Lin took the Cloud Gate dancers to Chihshang, where they joined the farmers in harvesting the rice.

Out of this experience, Lin created exuberant yet powerful movements woven through soil, sunlight, wind, water and fire, telling the story of the land while contemplating the devastation of Earth.

Lin founded Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan in 1973, adopting the name of the oldest known dance in China for the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese speaking community. 

Cloud Gate dancers, who receive training in meditation; Chi Kung, an ancient form of breathing exercise; internal martial arts; modern dance; ballet and calligraphy transform ancient aesthetics into thrilling modern celebration of motion.

Lin created Rice in 2013, on the occasion of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s 40th anniversary. He was honored that same year with the prestigious Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement that year, joining the ranks of Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch. The festival announcement stated, “Mr. Lin’s fearless zeal for the art form has established him as one of the most dynamic and innovative choreographers today... His choreographic brilliance continues to push boundaries and redefine the art form.” He is the first recipient of this award who is based in Asia. 
Among Lin's numerous honors are honorary doctorates from six universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Taiwan National Award for Arts, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award, the award for Best Choreographer at the Lyon Biennial Dance Festival, the Distinguished Artist Award presented by International Society for the Performing Arts and the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture.

In 2005 he was honored by Time magazine as one of Asia’s Heroes. In 2013 President Ma Ying-Jeou awarded him with the First Rank Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon.

He is the second artist, after film director Ang Lee, to have been bestowed the highest honor from the government of Taiwan.

Cloud Gate has toured extensively with frequent engagements at the Next Wave Festival in New York, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Barbican Centre in London, the Moscow Chekhov International Theatre Festival and the Internationales Tanzfest NRW directed by Pina Bausch.

In 2003 Cloud Gate opened the Melbourne International Arts Festival with Cursive II (now known as Pine Smoke), winning both the Age Critics Award and the Patrons Award; The New York Times named Moon Water the best dance of the year.

In 2006 Ballet-Tanz and Theater Heute named Cursive: A Trilogy the best dance choreography of the year.

Tickets for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures range from $35-45 for the general public. Student tickets aare $19 with valid I.D. A Granada facility fee will be added to each ticket price.

For tickets and more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535 or purchase online at

This dance series is sponsored in part by Annette & Dr. Richard Caleel, Margo Cohen-Feinberg & Robert Feinberg and the Cohen Family Fund and Dorothy Largay & Wayne Rosing. The Santa Barbara Independent is the media sponsor.

The Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan tour is made possible by grants from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan).

Arts & Lectures gratefully acknowledges the generous support of SAGE for its major corporate support of the 2015-16 season.

Caitlin O'Hara is the senior writer and publicist at UCSB Arts & Lectures.

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