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A ribbon of waterfall slumped. A scatter of boulders hunched. Where the splashes hit, mosses grew. All was serene. But nothing could subdue the vitality bursting and bubbling like laughter. Amidst the slippery rocks, Billy Chang danced, as free as a fairy.
This performance was part of Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Festival’s 2021 program. Chang cited Chinese poet Wang Wei’s “Mountain Life on an Autumn Evening” as his inspiration.
“To dance is to live in the present moment,” he quoted his mentor Cheng Shu-jih, a professor at Taipei National University of the Arts and dancer at Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. He considers dancing his life philosophy and his body a work of his own making.
After five years with Cirque du Soleil, Chang returned to Taiwan. From the theatrical adaptation of Pai Hsien-yung’s Crystal Boys to the House of Flying Daggers, Chang took on roles like a lovesick homosexual in an oppressive society and a power-hungry emperor in a turbulent era.
Besides performing on stage, Chang was also active behind the scenes. Some of his directorial involvements included an experimental yoga retreat in the fields of Nanao, Yilan and a Buddhist scripture inspired dance for the year-end celebration of the Buddhist Compassion Relief of Tzu Chi Foundation. He also ventured outside of his comfort zone to join the Golden Melody Awards and Netflix production 1,000 Walls in Dream.
Chang has been promoting drama therapy as a business owner and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. He said Taiwan is brimming with energy and has the potential to become a relaxing vacation destination like Bali. To test his theory, Chang has worked with holiday resorts in Miaoli and Wulai to create therapeutic experiences such as drumming, tea tasting, and zen dancing.
Next year, Chang will be leading Taichung-based Wugi Troupe to Vancouver for the Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Festival. Members of Wugi Troupe have backgrounds in dance, martial arts, and juggling. Their goal is to promote Taiwanese culture in an innovative, palatable art form.