Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers Be/Longing: Light/Shadow Performance Mesmerizes CU Crowd

Angelitta Anderson

March 27, 2014

The March 27 Be/Longing: Light/Shadow performance on Cheyney University's campus was unlike anything I have ever witnessed. The artistic masterpiece of poetic movements and innovative sounds featured the critically-acclaimed and internationally known Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL/D). The show was part of Cheyney University’s 2014 Spring Arts and Lectures Series.

The audience watched intently with amazement as KYL/D mesmerized them with their inventive choreography which embodied a blend of master puppetry executed by Beijing-born performer and classically trained puppeteer Hua Hua Zhang. Her Eastern/Western puppet artistry explored the universal themes of self and one’s longing for home, with a twist of mandala artistry--a spiritual and ritual symbol found in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe arranged by choreographer Tatiana Hassan. All of that was surrounded by an original composition of hybrid music and sounds created by native Philadelphian Corey Neale, which echoed the tranquil universal meditation ohm song.

During the performance, KYL/D sat in a yoga lotus pose on the floor encouraging onlookers to meditate in the prayer pose--eyes closed--while the dancers sat on the floor near the edge of the stage,inviting them into their world of Chi. This was only fitting considering that Lin is the Artistic Director of KYL/D & Founder of the CHI Movement Arts Center in South Philadelphia and Chi is Mandarin for “breath” or “vital life source.”

The audience was encouraged to explore Chi by participating in deep breathing, visualization and relaxation exercises. The whole process was very tranquil and absolutely relaxing.  Just when things appeared to be winding down and everyone thought the show was over, KYL/D were back on their feet encouraging the audience to engage in their own personal journey of self-discovery.

The evening’s performance wrapped up with Executive Director of KYL/D Ken Metzner allowing the audience to ask the dancers questions. One person wanted to know where the inspiration for the puppet originated. “The puppet is a life sculpture that gives a sense of mystery and creates a more theatrical element to the Light/Shadow portion of the show,” explained Lin. “I want the audience to experience their own personal journey while viewing the dancers.”

“The show, for me, is about the connection of the body, the mind, the spirit and the connection with the audience and the fluidity shared amongst my fellow dancers,” Choreographer Tatianna Hassan shared when asked why she wanted to be part of this project. “The light show portion of the performance is designed for the audience to feel, to connect--we are all connected and that remains more important than anything else,” she continued. “The light show is about the light that resonates within us all.”

Composer Corey Neale was asked how the dancers keep time to such complicated hybrid music and innovative sounds. “For me part of the process is sort of honing in on what the internal rhythms and pulses of the dancers are," Neal offered.  "Some of my task is to infuse the dance with a musical statement that is readily understandable for the audience. You have to have a delicate touch with music, working with dancers, because there are a lot of things already going on; the dancers create the polyrhythms.”