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Trace under the Trace: Grain Patterns above the Trace

Although dance is an art form without words, its body language is a medium of artistic expression most intimate with humanity.

In a lifelong effort, Edvard Munch invariably constructed his paintings around personal experiences. Similarly, Dominique Yen seeks to express her immediate feelings about life through dance productions that are inspired by humanity, animals and competition.

Unlike drama, which is composed of words in dialogues, dance is an art form relying on body language; thus, it can overcome geographic/linguistic barriers. “Trace under the Trace; Grain Patterns above the Trace” blurs the boundaries between the arts and life, as well as those among dance, drama, music and painting.

Yen, who never ceases to surprise her audience with remarkable insights into human nature, takes an anthropocentric approach to dance productions that explore humanity, life and perseverance. She depicts human life in her signature style that combines truthfulness, simplicity and profoundness. The 60-minute “Trace under the Trace: Grain Patterns above the Trace” is a conceptual extension of “Under the Traces” that premiered in 2005 at The Metropolitan Hall in Taipei. Another five years later, “Under the Traces” had expanded again, along with the life of its creator Yen, into “Traces & Grain Patterns,” which debuted in 2010 at Kaohsiung’s Wei Wu Ying Cultural Center for the Arts. To make her art works more complete, Yen presented “Trace under the Trace: Grain Patterns above the Trace” in 2011, as something growing out of her own life-related experiences at the Native Theater of International Hall in Tainan Municipal Cultural Center. By that time, her “Traces” series had been performed more than 20 times nationwide.

As suggested by the first song in the repertoire, this dance production unfolds in a manner that reflects the creator’s emotional response to how things develop, which could be a truth or a lie hidden under a mask. The snow-white baking soda is the medium as well as an integral element that creates an ambiance for both the dance production and the theatrical space, permeating the air, floor, auditorium and the hearts of the audience. An expert in spatial arrangement, Yen blends her production into the performance venue, whether it is a large amphitheater, a smaller theater, or an outdoor venue, so that the dancers are able to tell their own life stories and actually live in this production which, along with layering and overlapping, conveys the cruel reality under the traces and the rainbow-hued life above them. This dance production gives the audience a close and realistic look at the traces of their own lives, as if they were part of the stage set.

A mixture of dance, drama and audio arts, “Trace under the Trace: Grain Patterns above the Trace” is a significant visionary and unique effort in Taiwan’s history of performing arts. Just like Yen’s previous works that are vigorous and penetrating enough to reach out and touch hearts, “Trace under the Trace: Grain Patterns above the Trace” is a tear-jerker that moves countless audiences of varying social statuses and nationalities.

Traces              by Dominique Feng-Hsi Yen

A trace is left when a pen scribbles across the paper;

a knife chips away a piece of wood;

tears trickle down the cheek;

the body is lacerated,

resulting in scars even when the wound is healed.

As a dancer leaves visible traces of body movements,

you will see a clear trail of a snail just crawling by,

a pool of blood after animals’ fierce fight,

the carcass of a cockroach killed by a relentless stamp,

and the tragic remains of a car accident.

 “Under the Traces”

Our lives are marked with numerous traces, but oftentimes we see only those on the surface while ignoring things that have happened or feelings hidden beneath. “Under the Traces” is an attempt to explore the invisible traces lying under the superficial ones.

“Above the Traces”

This production is about how people bravely face the inward traces that lie under the superficial ones, and decide to stand on those traces, reopening their minds to share feelings about life’s traces.

It is also about how people manage to maintain the purest form of sincerity and carve grain patterns into their respective lives, even when tackling challenges in life.