On the freedom born from a new kind of encounter between dance and music
《混沌身響》第二季 第一番：劉奕伶 × 曾增譯Primal Chaos – Dance × Sound Improvisation Season 2 Episode 1: Liu Yi-Ling × Mike Tseng／照片由驫舞劇場提供 Photo provided by HORSE
《混沌身響》第四季 第六番：葉名樺 × Aporia Primal Chaos – Dance × Sound Improvisation Season 4 Episode 6: Yeh Ming-Hwa × Aporia／照片由驫舞劇場提供 Photo provided by HORSE
然而，我更好奇於那些在聲音與身體分家之後，再次相遇的時刻。分道揚鑣的音樂與舞蹈，後來有了各自乘載的隱喻與身體記憶（像是面對舞踏的身體，如何在聲音的選擇上融入或者回應其所原有的脈絡？），偶爾成為彼此阻礙，偶爾也可以借力使力，如翩娜．包殊（Pina Bausch）之於The Rite of Spring、簡寧漢（Merce Cunningham）之於約翰．基治（John Cage），又或者如布拉瑞揚舞團在《是否》中忘情K歌所欲碰觸的身體符碼與社會議題。
對我而言，音樂與舞蹈這肉搏戰的交流，讓以下關鍵字逐漸浮現：關於身體、空間、聲音與時間結構──包括身體發出的聲音如何融入聽覺音景（像是包殊Café Müller 中伴著浦塞爾〔Henry Purcell〕沉靜詠嘆調的細碎桌椅聲），聲音如何被賦予空間指涉，隱含方向訊息（小提琴家慕特來衛武營演出時，曾形容音樂廳「就和在小提琴共鳴箱內拉琴一樣」，我覺得這是很美的比喻，連帶延伸到近年動見体劇團由音樂家林桂如與編舞家董怡芬的身體與聲音實驗，把表演空間轉化為大型裝置樂器），是製造聲音的身體動力（於是我們愈來愈常看見樂手也成為另一種身分的舞者），或是彼此共同鋪陳的演出架構（如姬爾美可的編舞呼應著極簡音樂曲式）。
 強納森．布洛斯，《編舞筆記》，白斐嵐譯（台北：書林出版社，2020），頁131。  由陳武康、蘇威嘉等編舞家與舞者於2004年所成立的舞團，位於新北市板橋，距離捷運站也有一段距離。  布拉瑞團舞團位於台東，以部落生活為根基，藉由山林與生活勞動持續探討原住民年輕人面對傳統文化、當代社會的議題。2019年作品《是否》將舞台化作部落卡拉OK場景，從流行歌曲帶出了個人私密經歷。題外話是高雄流行音樂中心還邀請了布拉瑞揚舞團擔任開幕演出，具體實踐了音樂與舞蹈的換位交流。  由導演符宏征成立於2006年，林桂如與董怡芬兩位藝術家為其核心成員。  由編舞家林宜瑾成立於2012年，近年致力於藉由田野調查、民俗藝陣實踐與山林踏查，尋找身體與土地文化的連結。
On the freedom born from a new kind of encounter between dance and music
Text: Siraya Pai
Translated by: Laura Chan
"The desire of contemporary dance to assert itself as an art form in its own right, separate from music, has led it to let go of pulse as an organising principle of time. This is a strange perversion and a joyous one. Most of the world dances to a beat."
—Jonathan Burrows, A Choreographer's Handbook
In recent years one of the great joys in my life has been going to HORSE’s remote, corrugated iron roofed rehearsal studio to watch Primal Chaos – Dance × Sound Improvisation, a series of improvisation projects that felt like blind dates.
《混沌身響》第二季 第二番：伍宇烈 × Joëlle Léandre Primal Chaos – Dance × Sound Improvisation Season 2 Episode 2: Yuri Ng × Joëlle Léandre／照片由驫舞劇場提供 Photo provided by HORSE
Of course, the blind dates involved the performers and not me. That is the essence of Primal Chaos: under the direction of Artistic Director Chen Wu-Kang and improvisation pianist Lee Shih-Yang, dancers and musicians/sound artists are paired up randomly. They are required not to talk to each other or discuss the performances in advance and must wait until the afternoon when they will perform before they can do so. The project was introduced in 2016 and is entering its sixth year, connecting many musicians and dancers from seemingly unrelated backgrounds (such as experimental soundscape and Butoh, voice and contact improvisation etc.).
How can we explain through ‘language’ the arts of music and dance which have never relied on using words? Maybe this was why the 'chaos' was needed. A discussion session would be held after each performance of Primal Chaos, and one of the most frequently asked questions was, “So – was it dance with music, or music with dance?” We often felt the need to judge whether there was a 'match' or 'mismatch' and tended to assume that music and dance, as well as sound and bodies, should combine with each other and operate in unison.
To discuss the dialogue between music and dance, we first had to identify a common language between the two. Other than not using words, 'time' seemed to be the point they both shared, and as a result we often used terms like 'groove', 'beat' and 'rhythm' to connect the two. In some instances, such as dance scenes in musicals, the use of percussion in Chinese opera, or dances like tango or flamenco, body and sound complement each other while having their own groove and rhythm. In these performances the texture of body and sound, regardless of their speed or weight, are inextricably linked and form a single entity.
However, I am more interested in the moments when sound and body reunite after being separated from each other. Over time they carry new metaphors and memories of their own (such as whether a body should choose to immerse itself in or respond to the sounds of Butoh), and could become obstacles to each other or offer each other support, like Pina Bausch in The Rite of Spring, Merce Cunningham with John Cage, or how Bulareyaung Dance Company’s singing addresses physical symbols and social issues in Yes or No.
So – how were we to comprehend the question of whether music and dance were 'matching' or 'leading' each other? In the unpredictable scenarios of Primal Chaos all kinds of references, metaphors and unspoken rules of sounds and bodies (like whether tap dance could be performed out of sync, or whether human voices can deprive words of their meaning) struggled with miscommunication and fought for the power to speak. Yet there was also debate and reconciliation, as well as moments when the art forms simply went their own way and ignored each other, summing up the various types of exchange which are possible between music and dance.
混沌身響第五季第三番：余彥芳× 張幼欣× 陳武康 Primal Chaos – Dance × Sound Improvisation Season 5 Episode 3: Yu Yen-Fang × Sayun Chang × Chen Wu-Kang／照片由驫舞劇場提供 Photo provided by HORSE
The struggle between music and dance made me think of the following key words: body, space, sound and structure of time – including how sounds emitted from the body could be immersed into audio backgrounds (like the scraping sounds of tables and chairs which accompany Purcell’s serene music in Bausch’s Café Müller), how sounds were allowed to make references to convey messages (violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter once said that playing in the concert hall was like “playing the violin in its sound box”, which is a beautiful metaphor and could be extended to how musician Lin Kuei-Ju and choreographer Tung I-Fen of the M.O.V.E. theatre turned performance venues into a large musical installation in their body and sound experiments), the physical dynamics through which sound is created (and therefore more and more we see musicians becoming another kind of ‘dancer’), or how performance structures may be created mutually (like the way Anne De Keersmaeker’s choreography echoes minimalist musical forms).
Rather than seeking to 'match' music with dance, mismatched or disturbing moments can actually challenge existing styles and spark innovation. Sometimes even conservative genres like traditional dance can be deconstructed; today Taiwanese dance groups are re-exploring folk art forms. An example is the Bare Feet Dance Theatre which has been working with the genres of Cian Wáng Ge (editor's note: burial songs guiding the spirits of the deceased through an afterlife journey) and Pak-Kuán (editor's note: a kind of traditional music of Taiwanese Han) for years. In the group’s latest work Tsia̍h Thóo, dancers transformed the energy from the rhythm of folk art formats through their bodies (both physically and musically), while at the same time deconstructing the texture and structure of Pak-Kuán music. Electronic music is used to expand, build up and reorganize the music, while intertwining with the physical energy of the traditional musicians – the sounds of stepping, breathing and playing instruments – leading each other into a 'disharmony', which stretches out into new possibilities.
The excerpt at the beginning of this article comes from the beautiful book A Choreographer’s Handbook. In contemporary art I find it difficult to use the word 'collaboration' to describe the intimate yet distanced relationship between music and dance; I would rather imagine that there is a channel between the two. Somehow music and dance, sounds and bodies that speak different languages, can still strive to communicate with each other, and, in the process of this struggle, can also each achieve a breakthrough of their own and gain a newfound freedom.
 Jonathan Burrows, A Choreographer's Handbook (London & New York: Routledge, 2010), pp.125.  HORSE was founded by choreographers and dancers including Chen Wu-Kang and Su Wei-Chia in 2004. The rehearsal studio is located in Banqiao District of New Taipei City and is quite far from the nearest metro station.  Based in Taitung, Bulareyaung Dance Company explored the issues that indigenous youngsters face in traditional culture and modern society through the lens of tribal life. In 2019, Yes or No turned the stage into a tribal Karaoke scene, expressing telling personal stories through pop songs. As a side note, Kaohsiung Music Centre also invited the company for its opening performance, a concrete example of exchange between music and dance.  M.O.V.E. Theatre was established by director Fu Hong-Zheng in 2006, with Lin Kuei-Ju and Tung I-Fen being the principal artists.  Bare Feet Dance Theatre was established by choreographer Lin I-Chin in 2012, recently focusing on the search for the connection between the body and the land through field studies and practice of folk parades.
Her recent writings have focused on theatre music, theatre translations and intercultural translations. Works she has translated include To the Actor: On the Technique of Acting, The Theatrical Public Sphere, A Choreographer's Handbook, Empty Stages, Crowded Flats: Performativity as Curatorial Strategy, etc.