The Walker (2015) **** Taiwan Film Festival 2019

April 2nd, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Singing Chen | Doc, Taiwan 147′

Renowned Taiwanese choreographer Lin Lee-Chen has devoted her life to a slow and studied form of dance that embraces modern techniques with ancient religious ritual. Chen’s impressive Taiwanese documentary explores the origins of her method, showing how stealth rather than speed is the essence of the calming dance movements. Lin channels her own inner tranquility and potent physical strength into routines that share her powerful dexterity and calming creativity.

This epic study starts with a deep rumble of drums as the underworld opens and a mystical pearly white Sea Goddess Mazu gracefully emerges leading her dusky spirits forwards. This is one of the eerie yet mesmerising dances Lin has created and is performed by her Legend Lin Dance Theatre. Her work is borne out of a desire to express and share her own inner calm.

Ten years in the making the documentary is an impressively meditative endeavour that illustrates the difference between the Lin’s slow oriental aesthetic and that of the West which focuses on speed. The dance excerpts are visually exquisite, blending calmness with richly vibrant colours and an emphasis on pools of light that highlight the ritualistic dance routines. Another sequence takes place on the seashore and is one of the most sinuous and graceful performances in the repertoire, the costumes billowing and swirling as they gently contour the dancers’ elegant forms. If you’re looking for a comprehensive visual history of Taiwanese dance then this is probably the most appealing so far. MT

SCREENING AT BERTHA DOC HOUSE during the London Taiwanese Film Festival 2019 | 3 April 2019

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