Interview: Po Cheng Tsai
Luca Curci talks with Po Cheng Tsai, honourable mention of ITSLIQUID International Contest – 15th edition.
Po Cheng, TSAI, a professional dance artist from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, is the founder and current artistic director of B.DANCE. Tsai was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. After graduating from Tsoying Senior High School, he went to Taipei National University of the Arts. During his university days, he got a scholarship to go to Purchase College, New York for exchange and learning. His works are often based on his own life experiences, perceptual, supplicated, but still humorous, with unique dance languages and treacherous and changeable styles. He often integrates theatres, dance, and extreme limb movements in his works. From 2014 to 2019, he had presented several original pieces to the international dance circles as touchstones and received high praises along with 4 gold medals and 1 silver medal from multiple choreography competitions around the world. In 2018, Tanz, a German magazine, included Tsai as one of the 2017/2018 most promising young choreographers around the world. Tsai was selected as the “best emerging choreographer of the year” by the France National Board of Performance Arts in 2020 and one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Persons” in Taiwan in 2021. In the recent years, Tsai has put in a lot of efforts in the international markets. He has tried to test those markets with his works, showing the rich power of creating original works in Taiwan, and has been invited by several groups and organizations around the world, including Luzerner Theater and Bern Theatre in Switzerland, Stuttgart Gautiher Dance Company in Germany, Introdanz Dance Company in Netherlands, and Cloud Gate 2, to visit as a guest choreographer, and then brought what he’d seen back to his home country. In 2016, he set up the “B.OOM by B.DANCE”, a project for international collaboration in performance, inviting celebrated independent choreographers and dancers in Europe to Taiwan for performances and workshops. He’s been trying to lead his team with innovative thinking from diversified perspectives, aiming to open up the possibility of in-depth dialogues between arts and education and the society. That’s how he’s given back to our land through actions.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Po Cheng Tsai – I am currently creating a brand new work called Don Quixote at the Bühnen Bern in Switzerland. This is my second full-length work based on Western literature. My first work based on Western literature was Alice, created in 2021, which has already toured several cities in Europe and received great response. Therefore, I am very excited for the release of “Don Quixote”.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
PCT – I entered the world of dance as a dancer at the age of 15 but decided to move towards becoming a choreographer during my sophomore year of college. My father passed away due to cancer the year I graduated from college. In remembrance of him, I created my first full-length work called “Floating Flowers”. Since its premiere in 2015, this piece has continuously led me to new cities, new theaters, and has also confirmed my future goal of becoming a choreographer.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artwork?
PCT – “Transmitting” is the most challenging thing for me. Everyone always says that contemporary dance or art is very difficult to understand or has profound meanings. Therefore, when I create, I often think about how to convey the emotions, stories, or concepts I want to convey to the audience through body language and choreography so that the audience can enjoy it.
LC – Is there an unrealised or unrealisable project, even a crazy one, that you would like to work
PCT – I have always wanted to be involved in large-scale operas or immersive exhibitions. I always have a lot of wild and crazy ideas circling in my mind, hoping that one day I can bring these concepts to life in spectacular performances.
LC – How is your creative process?
PCT – As a choreographer, the process of creation can be solitary and time-consuming. The amount of preparation time or pre-production time needed by each individual varies. Personally, I must outline the overall direction, content, and ideas of the entire work before the first rehearsal. This allows me to collaborate with the dancers and collectively create a compelling piece.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
PCT – I have always believed that artistic works must engage in dialogue with society in order to bring about change. My creative inspiration often comes from my own life experiences or social issues. I often ponder the purpose of an artist in society. However, I believe it is about raising issues and engaging in dialogue with society through my own works, providing the audience with different perspectives, answers, or imaginations. By utilizing the power of beauty or art, it is possible to touch people’s hearts and potentially bring about social change.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
PCT – This is truly remarkable and awe-inspiring. The sheer magnitude of this is beyond words.