Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tai chi as moving meditation

The above video is an episode from Moon Water, choreographed by Lin Huaimin (林懷民) the owner and artistic director of the famous modern dance group Cloud Gate Dance Theater (雲門舞集) of Taiwan. A critic called his premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music back in 2003 a syncretism of Bach and Tai-chi. Lin's dancers had been trained under the famous Taiwanese Tai chi master Xiong Hui 熊衛 who invented a special tai-chi stretching & twisting system and wrote a book on it, simply called Tai-chi stretching 太極導引 (A Chinese book - check here).

Unlike ballet dancers with out-stretched arms and legs, Lin's dancers danced with angular arms and legs, a tai-chi way of chi-generation to facilitate a water like flowing movement of the whole body in every single move. In dancing (and physical exercises in general) we see the build up of power and the release of which in the form of exertion of force - the essential dramatique and the way to hold a spectator's attention. In contrast Lin's dancers worked with a constant level of potential power that even in quick movements were under controlled and never allowed to overflow or explode. As the famous dance critic Anna Kisserlgoff wrote "Moon Water is not about meditation but is a meditation in itself." And this is Tao.

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