Special Feature: Liz Liew & Yuyu Rau's Snapshots, At Bedford Fringe Festival, South Bank Arts Centre, Bedford, Friday 26th July 2013 (2013/08/05)

Rainlore Feature on:

Liz Liew & Yuyu Rau - Snapshots

At Bedford Fringe Festival
South Bank Arts Centre
Bedford
Friday 26th July 2013




Liz Liew - composer, keyboard, violin, vocals
Yuyu Rau - choreographer, dancer
Dennis Kwong Thye Lee - guzheng (Chinese zither), xiao (Chinese flute)















Edited: 2013/08/05

All photographs by and copyright © David Ball. All rights reserved.



Yuyu Rau w/Liz Liew (bkgrd)
Yuyu Rau w/Liz Liew (bkgrd)

Snapshots PLUS

Liz Liew and Yuyu Rau's Snapshots is a personal exploration of key moments in composer Liew's life and the emotions involved, with dancer Rau interpreting these various 'snapshots' through a skillful and elegant combination of Chinese classical and modern dance and martial arts. In addition, at various points visual 'snapshots' are also projected onto the background. Snapshots' premiere has already been reviewed here, but since then the show has been redeveloped to some extent.

The programme at the Bedford Fringe was split into two parts, with the actual performance being preceded by short introductions to the principles of Chinese Classical Dance including finger gestures, curving of the body, posture and breathing techniques, with an aural and visual introduction to her performance of a short traditional Chinese dance by Taiwanese choreographer/dancer Yuyu Rau, and to the Chinese instruments used in the performance and their music by Chinese musician Dennis Kwong Thye Lee.

Dennis Lee, xiao, w/Yuyu Rau (bkgrd)
Dennis Kwong Thye Lee, playing the xiao with the guzheng also in frame, w/Yuyu Rau (bkgrd)

Using poetry and stories, Lee introduces audiences to the ethereal sound of the xiao (a vertically played Chinese bamboo flute) and the almost otherworldly sound of the guzheng (one of a family of long board zithers, with its typically 18 strings bridged) and performs traditional music on both instruments.

These introductions are surely an excellent idea and will no doubt be a great help to anybody without knowledge of Chinese dance, music and instruments to develop at least some basic understanding of these highly developed arts.

Sadly, Chinese culture in general and Chinese musical and dance culture in particular still suffer from a certain degree of underexposure in Britain on the one hand, while on the other the widespread myth in the West of the 'inaccessibility' and 'strangeness' of Chinese music (and dance) still persists to a large extent. And yet, Chinese classical and Western classical music are actually much closer to each other than for example Western and the relatively widely popular Hindustani classical music.

Close-up of David Lee playing the guzheng
Close-up of David Lee playing the guzheng

These introductions should, it is to be hoped, go some way to dispelling such cultural prejudices and myths and opening the Western ear and eye, and mind, to these beautiful and highly sophisticated traditions. Most of all, they will no doubt make the performance of Snapshots much more easily approachable to the typical British audience, further aided by a concluding short Q&A session with Rau, Lee and Liew.

Top

 
Liz Liew
Liz Liew

The second half is the actual performance of Snapshots. This is a personal exploration of key moments in composer Liz Chi Yen Liew's life and the emotions involved - childhood, first love, bereavement and child birth - through her compositions, an elegant, organic blend of Chinese and Western classical as well as contemporary elements utilising a combination   of   Western

(piano and violin) and Chinese (guzheng and xiao) instruments.

Liew's score is outstanding and highly evocative. It is cinematic in character and partly reminds of composers such as Ravel or Debussy, but Chinese versions thereof.

Dancer Yuyu Rau interprets these various 'snapshots' through a skillful and elegant blend of Chinese classical and modern dance and martial arts. In addition, at various points visual 'snapshots' are also projected onto the background.

Liz Liew with Yuyu Rau (bkgrd)
Liz Liew with Yuyu Rau (bkgrd)

The sheer fluidity, energy and elegance of the dance movements is as gripping as the musical score. Indeed, choreography and music are a perfect match that will easily hold the attention throughout.

Snapshots is a riveting experience full of high energy and elegance that cannot fail to impress as well as move.

The Bedford Fringe showcase of this collaboration between British Chinese composer Liew and Taiwanese dancer Rau was part of preparations for a nationwide tour in 2014. Something to look forward to then!

L-R, Liew, Rau & Lee
L-R, Liew, Rau & Lee

In closing, I would like to thank David Ball for the kind use of his photographs.


© 2013 Rainlore's World/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

Top
All original content except where stated otherwise © Rainlore's World/Rainlore.
All rights reserved.

All original art, web design and realisation, except where stated otherwise, by Logo - scarlet Eyebis . All rights reserved.