As one of the country’s only Asian-American contemporary dance companies, the Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL/D) already stand out. However, it’s their performances, or more so, the bold choreography and risks they take that really cement that notion.
The Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers under Artistic Director Kun-Yang Lin’s zen-inspired direction provide a showcase of new dances annually. Lin, a native of Taiwan, started the dance company here in Philly with the intent to create programs that focused on centering our chi, or “life force” in Mandarin. Through inspiration from Eastern philosophies along with contemporary dance, this critically acclaimed group has mixed the past with the present in a simply beautiful way for years. And 2022 will be no different.
Sticking with typical KYL/D fashion, there will be brand new choreographed pieces in the program this year, which takes place this weekend on April 8 (sold out) and April 9 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Lin spends his time crafting each routine, all of which are difficult in feat and meant to be intricate—and the result provides a showcase of dances that are that are direct, fluid, colorful, tranquil, thought-provoking and massively entertaining.
This year’s specific showcase, titled ‘Moving Reflections on the Environment & Humankind’, includes the U.S. Premiere of ‘Fish & Girl’, the World Premiere of ‘OceanWaves’, and the acclaimed work, ‘Spring 101.’ As a release states, all three pieces speak to the relationship between the contemporary world and nature, with a renewed sense of how these past few years have impacted our collective understanding of supporting one another and our environment.
Specifically, ‘OceanWaves’ speaks to the challenges of the past two years. As a reflection of this moment in history, this work also signifies founding Artistic Director Kun-Yang Lin’s 106th work and overall, this concert is the last from KYL/D that will feature exclusively his choreography. Overall, ‘OceanWaves’ also poses the question of: “How can we work together and support one another at this particular time?”
‘Spring 101’ on the other hand was conceived just before the pandemic, and back in 2019, it was the finale to the company’s annual showcase. ‘Spring 101’ breathes new life into Baroque music through a pairing of contemporary movement and sound design, and is meant to evoke the feeling of joy and of spring, and the excitement of new beginnings. As a release states, ‘Fish & Girl’ on the other hand responds to an unfinished poem by renowned Singaporean poet Pan Cheng Lui, concerning contemporary life and climate change. The work was performed in Singapore, but never had its U.S. premiere due to the pandemic.
Last year, the annual showcase went virtual, but it also brought Lin back to the stage to perform for himself for the first time in a decade. ‘The Wind’ was first choreographed in 2009, and the Taiwan native came out of retirement to perform it for virtual audiences.
2022’s Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers’ showcase will follow a similar suit, and will be available to be live-streamed (on April 9 at 7:30 p.m.) It’s also back in person at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on the Avenue of the Arts.
As a note, the KYL/D’s 2022 Spring Season has been made possible, in part, by the generosity of cherished friends and transformative supporters Ellen Schwartz and Jeremy Siegel. Lin dedicates these performances in honor of their support.
Dancing in this year’s showcase will be an ensemble of ten talented dancers, including: Evalina Carbonell, Weiwei Ma, Grace Stern, Keila Pérez-Vega, Sophie Malin, Ariel Isakowitz, Dominick Brown, Jamaal Bowman, Marcel Santiago Marcelino and Shiyu Wang. Lighting design and stage management comes from Alyssandra Docherty, costume design by Jill Peterson and sound design by Cory Neale.
Lin’s study in tai chi, martial arts, chi gong, calligraphy, meditation and Chinese opera movement all become present as soon as the curtain rises. The feeling that the show features spirituality in a highly physical way is also present throughout all Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers’ performances. Each movement speaks a beautiful language that you already understand, and every dancer embodies another layer of the human spirit.
As Lin told Metro in 2021: “We hope audience members recognize the power of dance to transform and heal, that the arts have something to contribute during great challenges, the arts speak to universal experiences, and that the arts uplift our communities.”
Tickets range from $25-$45. Saturday’s early performance will also feature a Q&A. To learn more, visit kyld.org