Dance-Travel Project: 1875 Ravel and Bolero

Shu-Yi Chou

The repetition of musical theme reminds us of how our life is passing by and building up at the same time, and how is the meaning of life concealed within our gains, losses, joys and sorrows. Inspired by Bolero, Shu-Yi Chou has invited his fellow dancers to recollect personal experiences and individual reflections on urban life, incorporating them into 1875 Ravel and Bolero. The title connects Ravel’s birth year 1875 to his last composition in the 1920s, implying the birth and regeneration of artistic creations.

To summon the long-forgotten golden age and to unsettle the present time, they wear vintage dresses found in their mothers’ wardrobe, demonstrating the combination of young body and old vogue. To reflect the juxtaposition of contrasting emotions and to demonstrate the power of life, they breathe, roar and relive those feelings they have had when taking a roller coaster ride. Using both ordinary physical movements and abstract body languages, they express the ups-and-downs of life. Through the dancers’ bodies, Chou interpreted the moments of repetition, transition, and tranquility.

After winning the first prize of International Dance Competition Award (organized by Sadler’s Wells) in 2009, 1875 Ravel and Bolero was invited to perform in Sadler’s Wells (London) and Fall for Dance Festival (New York) in 2010. In 2012 and 2013, it was staged by dance students from Taipei National University of the Arts and National Taiwan University of Arts respectively. To date, nearly 100 professional or student dancers have learnt to perform this piece. Derived from the concept of approaching more people with dance, Chou began the Dance-Travel project, touring many cities and towns with 1875 Ravel and Bolero. For five summers between 2010 and 2014, always adapting to local conditions and not setting up any stage or lights, he and his dancers have performed in all kinds of sites ─ old town, plaza, bookstore, train station square, among others ─ in places where people have rarely seen modern dance.

After a long break from the stage, under the title “Bolero in Kaohsiung”, Chou will bring the piece to the greater Kaohsiung area, giving more than 20 performances in 2022. In the same year, PROJECT ZERO plans to publish a book about the journey of this piece, telling the different aspects of its tour history in Taiwan and abroad ─ from the tour preparations to the analysis of the dance, the dancers’ experiences and insights, the audience’s feedbacks, the tour map, documentaries and photo collections. By collecting the memories, this book will touch the audience’s heart once again, giving people more power to smile at their lives.

Dance-Travel Project: touring to cities in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao between 2011 and 2014.
• Bolero in Kaohsiung: April to June, 2022 in the greater Kaohsiung area.
• Book Publication: December 2022