The Water Reflection Dance Ensemble delivers a very strong performance that’s extremely visually pleasing. The stage is small and simple, with a black backdrop and a single wooden chair with beautiful and exquisite three-inch lotus shoes perched on top. The shoes are tiny and look as if they were meant for children or someone with exceptionally small feet, but in fact they serve as ‘symbols of how the roles of eastern women shift and transform through time’. I still don’t quite understand how the 3 female dancers got their feet into them, let alone managed to dance in them with elegant grace that effortlessness.
Along with the 3 female dancers is a sole male performer, who both stands for the strength of the male figure as well as a snakelike spirit or a deity. There is audio accompaniment in Mandarin accompanying the performance, that apparently is normally translated onto the stage with subtitles but the company experienced some technical difficulties and could not project them. This unfortunately made it a bit hard to follow the story coherently. I recommend talking it through with the cast afterwards, they are more than willing to explain any confusion. This doesn’t however take anything away from the powerful dancing. It feels as if the performance belongs in a large scale production but the limited space the dancers have creates an intimate feel. The limbs of the performers seem to be endless and there is a mixture of delicate hand movements with explosive thrusts of the arms, extremely engaging eye contact and fantastic use of space.
The costumes are beautiful and use of props is minimal and effective. A personal favourite were the scenes with the long cloth sleeves and the cannon of movements where it seemed as if the movement would continue without end into space. There is a change in pace between scenes but the transitions are smooth and the ensemble never drops the ball, resulting in rapturous applause.