Review: Taiwan Season: Bout, Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe

Taiwan Season: Bout is a beautifully choreographed physical theatre/contemporary dance piece by the magnificent Chang Dance Theatre. The dancers move between contemporary and almost hip-hop choreography throughout this quietly stunning piece. It’s inspired by the observation of professional boxing, and examines the idea that this primitive behaviour in the ring reflects our everyday encounters.

Bout is performed by the established three Chang brothers who have created many dance pieces through their fraternal bond since 2011. This is clear on stage, and they dance as if moulded together as one dancer. Their poise and elegance is a delight, as well as the lilting melodies that are playing throughout. 

The choreography by Chien-Hoa Chang is inventive and gorgeous, as the brothers seamlessly transition between boxing-like choreography to gliding dance moves. He manages to intertwine the two styles so that the line between pedestrian movements and full dance is smoothly blurred. I particularly enjoy Chang’s fighting sections, which is in itself is a contradiction as it contains so much delicacy and poise. They weightlessly lifting each other in seemingly impossible balances and hold their pose for a few moments, before continuing with the flowing choreography. Every detail has been considered.. Chang has devised a peacefully original show that clearly investigates the ideas of power play in a boxing ring. 

The three brothers are charismatic dancers who demonstrate the piece with ease and grace. They are quadrupedal, as they effortlessly transition from feet to hands as though all four limbs hold equal strength. Their great power allows them to hold handstands, shoulder balances and counterbalances between them, to make it look as easy as standing on two feet. This offhand style is enchanting to watch. 

While the show exhibits beautiful elegance and grace, I yearn for a change of pace from the consistently peaceful dancers. It’s true that there are bursts of quicker choreography, but these moments are few and far between, and the whole tone of the piece is lyrical and slow. This is perhaps because the brothers themselves are enchantingly good at making it seem so easy to perform, and their trademark style is an almost Tai-Chi like ease. Despite this, I hope for something to keep me on my toes whilst watching and I believe a drastic change of pace would accomplish this. 

The recorded accompaniment is a mixture of instrumental, singing tracks and tranquil silence. The marriage between choreography and music is exquisite and these two components become one in this show.

Taiwan Season: Bout is a serene, graceful piece with creative choreography performed by superbly professional dancers. It engages the idea of our instinctive behaviours in and out of the boxing ring, which is intriguing to watch. The Chang Dance Theatre company have a number of different pieces at the Fringe, and I will make sure to see their other shows to discover their other creative works.

Taiwan Season: Bout is playing at Summerhall until 25 August 2019. For more information and tickets, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website