Kurakuraw Dance Glass Bead: the perils of giving too much away

With the constant barrage of shows at the Fringe, you’re often running from one side of the city in a hurry to catch the next show. That’s why it was a particular surprise when I unintentionally turned up to see Kurakuraw Dance Glass Bead, a new production from the Taiwanese Tjimur Dance Theatre, half an hour early. It was a good job I did, I thought to myself, when, 15 minutes before the show was due to start, a representative of the company handed out programmes that explained the Paiwan myth the show was adapted from before giving a short monologue and asking the audience if they had any questions. People who arrived on time asked me if I paid for my programme and how they could get one – but no further announcements about the programme, including their apparent importance to understanding the show, were made.

The story of the show is easy enough to summarise – a mythical flying peacock courts a girl in an ancient village – but the programme takes two A4 pages to detail the ballet’s three-act structure, despite the fact it is minimally produced with two dancers, an actor and two musicians. I struggled to match the information detailed in the programme with what I was watching. Once the show had ended, I went over my programme again in a dazed state. While members of the company were on-hand afterwards to answer any questions, this only added to my bemusement.

The choreography was strong, the dancers were brilliant and the musicians were outstanding, but the over-explanation of Kurakuraw Dance Glass Bead left me feeling detached. If only I’d arrived a little later…

Christian Butler is a writer and musician based in London.

Kurakuraw Dance Glass Bead is at Dance Base until 24 August.

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