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Edinburgh International Festival 2015

TAO Dance Theatre

TAO Dance Theatre

Genre: Contemporary, Dance

Venue: Royal Lyceum Theatre


Low Down

TAO Dance Theatre presents two pieces choreographed by founder TAO Ye. This Beijing-based company has risen quickly to world renown following Ye’s thoughts about exploring physicality rather than story.


Tao Ye, choreographer and founder of TAO Dance Theatre presented a programme of two of his own choreographed dance pieces at the Edinburgh International Festival, August 2015.

Ye’s philosophy is to produce contemporary dance that encompasses physical precision with a hypnotic mesmerising visual. His dances are minimalist experiments which strive to explore physical possibilities rather than offer a narrative or story behind the work.

The first piece Weight x 3 comprises five dancers in Part I, Part II and Part III set to music by Steve Reich. In Part I, Fu Liwei and Mao Xue do sideways movements to the right and left of the stage, advancing and retreating upstage. Their footwork is outstandingly precise and they are nimble and flexible as they lean over and undulate their bodies side to side with light rhythmic jumps. In Part II Duan Ni twirls a pole at high speed exploring all levels of his body with fast variations. It’s a beautiful image in the one spotlight, repetitive yet impressive at the strength of the dancer. Mao Xue and Li Shunjie dance Part III which has an advancing, rocking and sweeping forward movement, both in perfect sync as they change directions and turn together. It builds in speed and the dancers are fluid as they perform the repetitive moves very well.

Costumes by Tao Ye are striking, long white robes, a long black and brown robe, and Part III’s long robes in scarlet red and the other in dark blue unify the piece, and are all visually appealing.

5 is a piece for five dancers with music by Xiao He, and costumes – flesh toned loose legged body suits by Tao Ye, Duan Ni and Li Min. The dancers move around while keeping physical contact with others. It is a mesmerising piece where they repeatedly move around in ever changing combinations, rolling, bodies upside down – all at a constant slow speed. Interesting music includes piano and flute which complement the visceral movement.

TAO Dance Theatre is based in Beijing and has quickly risen to world prominence since it was formed in 2008. At under the age of 30 TAO has reached a high point in his career and is in great demand as a choreographer. One of his main ideas, which supports his minimalist approach is to give his dance creations a linear sequence or number instead of poetic names. Ye believes that the audience will make their own of the physical expression in view, which is really how art works – very personal and different for each person.