Taiwan Season: Touchdown

A man falls from the side of the screen onto the floor. Wow! What a way to start! Incandescence company’s Touchdown, a quirky, intriguing gem of a show with moments of brilliance as Hao Cheng demonstrates that both physics and art can be beautiful. Involving blackboard and chalk - No, not a teacher’s lecture - but part dance, part art installation: the blackboard the floor whilst Cheng crawls, rolls or stretches full out as he draws. Touchdown is so-called because that is exactly what happens as he stays on the floor throughout the show.

a quirky, intriguing gem of a show with moments of brilliance

If the terms Quantum Physics, electrons, ‘the uncertainty principle’ have you running scared, then fear not. This is physics for the uninitiated, like me, flaky arts students who dropped maths and science as soon as possible. However, a caveat, the film is prefaced with screeds of text ‘explaining’ the physics theories the show is about. Clear as mud, I’m afraid, to someone like me. I presume these would be programme notes if the show was live and could be read after the show (a better option) not before but they are not really needed. My advice is to skip them or skim and refer back later if you must. And don’t be put off, because this show is a beauty in what follows.

As Cheng becomes more and more frenzied and the chalk ellipses become scribbles on the far edges, the lines becomes smudged and blurred and his dark trousers turn white with dust. There is a calm pause where he reflects on the similarity of electron paths with the fixed paths (which could be unfixed) we take in life: ‘the first kiss on a beach, you retire and see the fireflies’ in lines that could be poetry. Another lovely little touch is during the credits. Look out for the two small light dots, one yellow and one green. Notice the owl hoots and at each hoot how the yellow one gets bigger, absorbing the green one, and then the yellow turns green. Says it all. This show so narrowly missed being 5 stars and could be if Cheng trusted the arts (dance/art/poetry) to express his theme without any explanatory text. 

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Reviews by Stephanie Green

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Performances

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The Blurb

Hao Cheng's background in mathematics gives him a unique perspective on both abstract ideas and flesh-and-blood performance. His dynamic solo for Incandescence Dance is a quietly thrilling meeting of popular science and the poetry of motion. The action is set on a blackboard-like platform transformed by a rainfall of chalk – and Cheng's ceaselessly nimble, emotive movement – into a visual art installation. A highly personal and proudly low-tech examination of the seemingly unresolvable contradictions of being alive, this elegantly-conceived show lends quantum physics and the uncertainty principle fresh meaning and a human face.

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