The Tjimur Dance Theatre from Taiwan is invited to bring “Varhung ~ Heart to Heart” to the Vancouver International Dance Festival this year. There will be two performances on March 29th and 30th, 2019 at the Playhouse in Vancouver, and also three workshops from March 24th to March 26th. Choreographer and dance director Baru Madiljin invites audiences to experience the limb movements that are unique to Tjimur, and through the movements, to be mentally tipsy together.
“Varhung ~ Heart to Heart” made a strong impression on Vancouver International Dance Festival’s artistic director Jay Hirabayashi. Therefore, he invites Tjimur for this year’s program and hopes to introduce it to more Canadian audiences. “Varhung ~ Heart to Heart” reveals the most realistic aspect of life. The choreographer Baru said that people often start to open up and talk about what’s on their minds when they are slightly drunk. And things weighing on their minds are hard to explain and hard to be understood by others. The two types of roles, the ones with something on their minds and the ones listening to them, are like the worries behind the worries being told. The 70% tipsiness of this piece allows audience to share what’s on their minds with the performers on the stage. Baru also described the idea of using limbs is like the concept of the “drunken fist” from Chinese kungfu. In the initial stage of the rehearsal, the performers were taken into a karaoke bar to feel what it is like to be drunk, in order to inspire them to move their limbs while performing this piece as if being tipsy. The deeply rooted and local cultural symbols of Tjimur can still be found in the unique new limb performances.
In the Paiwan language, varhung means the “heart”. Yet it is also the expression of internal exchange of emotions and feelings caused by various emotions such as joy, anger, sadness, and happiness. It stresses the introverted and true affection and reflects the Paiwan people’s beautiful, elegant, and sincere emotions. The Paiwan people have no written words. Thus, they are used to expressing their internal and multi-layered emotions through dancing and singing. They can express every word and every sentence accurately with flawless artistry.
“Tjimur Dance Theatre” is the first Taiwanese contemporary dance group focusing on the Paiwan culture in Taiwan. Since 2012, Tjimur has been performing internationally and communicating with audiences through the art of movement, reaching across languages and spaces.
“Varhung ~ Heart to Heart” is a 60-minute piece that talks about people’s minds. In 2018, the performance was greeted with enthusiastic approvals from audiences in Europe, while British and French media gave extensive praises. Choreographer Baru Madiljin was praised by British magazine, The Wee Review, for his adroitness in choreographing as he enabled performers to express themselves to the fullest extent. Three 5-star and three 4-star ratings were given by The Scotsman, Herald, Broadway News and other theatre review websites. One of these was the major French newspaper, Le Figaro, which praised Tjimur Dance Theatre as a dance group that stood out among others! In addition, "Varhung-Heart to Heart" was also shortlisted for the Total Theatre & The Place Award for Dance, and the dance group was the only Asian team on the entire list of nominees. The purpose of this award is to give recognition to excellent independent productions that innovate and make breakthroughs. The award has always been regarded as the holy grail of the performing arts field.
With the support of the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan, this group can be presented to Canadian audiences. And with their three workshops aiming at general audiences, professional dancers, and indigenous people, we hope to make dance-lovers understand more about the uniqueness of Taiwanese contemporary indigenous dance and its latest progress.