Shu-Yi Chou

“Break” means damage and unsettle, but also implies pause and rest. It carries two meanings that seem dissimilar yet are subtly connected. Break & Break! looks into the situation of stagnancy or uselessness faced in our life, as well as the demolition or ruin after a place confronting unavoidable changes. It talks about urbanization, ignored places or marginalized communities, and then looks for a rebellious yet peaceful way to intervene, to participate in the storytelling of those places.

Break & Break! originally arose from many dance videos taken by Chou between 2014 and 2017 in different places. He has traveled to unfamiliar cities, interviewing strangers, wandering between city centers and outskirts. To search for the lost – what used to exist there – he used his body to perceive and respond to both derelict and functional sites. To record the passing – the disappearing sceneries – he preserved their memories in the dance video.

“Image” is the key medium. Choosing what to capture in the film is always a man’s conscious decision. It reflects a man’s perception of the transient time, his awareness, or powerlessness, to withstand the vicissitudes of changes. Then, from this forlorn angle he might notice certain unusual strengths, persisting from being something to being nothing, and from loss to rebirth.

Break & Break! is a site-specific exhibition. In the past editions, Chou has led his team to Polymer, a former textile mill in Taipei (2018) and into Son Veng, an old shipyard in Macao (2020). They projected the abovementioned dance videos on “alternative” canvas, such as a concrete wall, a river bank or a façade of congregated-iron house. The exhibition, for its setting echoes with the video’s ambience, will recreate the past – the moments of Chou’s physical dialogue with those sites he visited, and thus transport the audience to other spaces and time. Then, Chou’s live dance performance will occur, reconnecting the audience with the present. Thus, the past and now overlap, elevating each other, while also constructing a new reality.

Taipei Premiere: Jun. 29 – Jul. 1, 2018 at Polymer Art Space, Taipei, Taiwan

Macao Edition: Jan. 16-18, 2020 at Son Veng Shipyard for the Macao City Fringe Festival

Jinguashi Edition: Sep. 19-20, 2020 nearby the ruins of Shuinandong Smelter, Jinguashi, Taipei County, Taiwan

Award: Winner of Performing Arts Award, 17th Taishin Arts Award, Taiwan

Film Director & Choreographer:Shu-Yi Chou  |  Video Design:Max Lee  |  Music:Yu-Jun Wang  |  Lighting Design:Chih-Heng Chuang  | Scenery Design (Jinguashi Edition):Kuang-Chen Yeh

The Jury of Taishin Arts Award:

''an intimate and personal work yet also ambitious in scope...''

The Jury of Taishin Arts Award:

“An intimate and personal work… also ambitious in scope… Chou successfully imbues his performance with both a deep sense of self-reflection and considerable relevance to the localities he explores, and indeed beyond them… The multi-channel projection provides a dynamic backdrop and a point of dialogue for a compelling dance performance. While the work premiered at a specific site, its relevance to the global experience of urbanization suggests that it can be staged elsewhere with the use of non-traditional sites.”

Nominator for Taishin Arts Award:

''incredibly poignant and arresting...''

Chin-Hsien Lin, Award Nominator:

“After receiving great acclaims in the mainstream environment, Chou went against the stream and went for solitary exploration, traveling to many marginalized places in Taiwan and other countries … finally concluded with the performance in Polymer … In a corner of the urban jungle, a dance pilgrim embraces the audience with dance videos. When he shows up in flesh and blood and dances with his doppelgänger in the video, dancing into urban ruins and neon lights, the moment is incredibly poignant and arresting.”

International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong):

''presented silently yet powerfully in this visually impacting remark on the city...''

黃寶儀, International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong):

“Performed outside the missing wall of the half-ruined shipyard house, the dancer’s movements lead the audience’s sight across the bay, across the water, to the shining skyline of the entertainment district at the opposite side. The contrast of prosperity, desolation, the valued and the ignored, from inside to outside the shipyard, is presented silently yet powerfully in this visually impacting remark on the city…… A declining place is reborn in his poetical physical narrative……”