Dispatches from RIAF Part 2: What Did It All Mean?
Philip Lederer, Phil.Lederer@srqme.com
Though this year’s Ringling International Arts Festival has come and gone, it has once again left its indelible mark on the audience. Whether through the kuruma ningyo puppetry of Tom Lee’s Shank’s Mare (of which RIAF attendees got a sneak peek), the outrageous feats of Phare: The Cambodian Circus or the orchestral acrobatics of Orkes Sinten Remen from Indonesia, viewers were wowed, just as they were moved by the emotion of performances by Ronnarong Khampha and by Peni Candra Rini.
In the Mertz Theatre, TAO Dance Theater took the stage. One of the leading contemporary dance troupes in China and in the midst of a world tour, RIAF 2015 marked the only U.S. stop and a rare opportunity. In a trio of performances entitled Weight X 3, comprising two duets and a solo piece, the troupe lived up to its reputation for minimalism and virtuosic precision. With duets almost geometric and a dizzying and twirling performance from a lone performer separating, the night unfolded with an almost ritualistic gravitas, the sweat pouring from its barefoot and choreographed acolytes to something greater than themselves. Accompanied by a musical score often cacophonous and at times actively distonal, the final effect was akin to a stoic wrangling of harmony from chaos. It was startling, it was new, it was RIAF.