Choreographer Kun-Yang Lin is a skillful dance maker. His works, as seen through his Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers at the Egg on Friday night, both soothe viewers into a meditative state while at the same time alerting them to an inherent but unspoken drama.
His nine dancers cluster and sweep across the stage in precise unison, often with movements that are stark and sudden. A jerk of the elbow up, a fall to the floor or a bob of the head happen in ways that surprise and intrigue. Lin’s dancers are a finely tuned unit.
One of Lin’s dances, “A-U-M,” explains their alliance. It is inspired by the mystical prayer mantra “om” intended to raise one’s level of spiritual awareness and calm. The dancers begin in silence, stretching, just as they would at the beginning of a rehearsal or dance class. They disperse and the vibrating hum of om chanting fills the air. The dancers return en masse and in smaller groups in a crystalline nod to all the physical practices, from ballet to yoga, that hone dancers into these athletes of art.
Of course, with the overlay of the om, which is constant, Lin implies the mind must be as committed as the body. He takes that concept further, asking the audience to direct more than their eyes to “A-U-M.” He wants audience’s hearts and minds, too, by bringing the dancers forward to serenely sit cross-legged at the edge of the stage.
The dancers ask the audience to relax, feel their breath, feel their heat and feel their hearts. Afterwards, they melt back upstage for their bows as the om chanting continues, as if to say the dance is over but the scared practice of heightened spirituality is not.
The first work on the program, “Pilgrimage” from his larger work “From the Land of Lost Content” lays bare Lin’s empathy for those who seek wisdom and mercy from above. Opening with the gentle ting of a small bell, the dancers in red crisscross the stage in Lin’s distinctive style — the flash of a quick pose followed by a few seconds for the audience to read the gesture, followed by another jolt to a pose.
While it sounds clinical, there is a rhythm to the dance that feeds the drama. Moreover, what he is showing, with arms outstretched or heads bowed, speaks of the vulnerability and earnestness of these characters. Thus, the audience easily becomes invested in their fates.
As this was just an excerpt, it ended abruptly. It would have been nice to see the full work.
While Lin’s dancers are amazing as an ensemble, they are also striking individuals; Lui Mo, especially so. In his solo “Moon,” he transforms into a bird, swooping and soaring through space. His presence is electric.
The progrm also included “Souvenirs,” which started off oddly funny, but ended baffling. Again, this was an excerpt from a larger work, “Shall We ...?”, and cannot be understood without the whole.
The night concluded with “Be/Longing: Light/Shadow,” which further explores Lin’s interest in humanity’s quest for integration — mind, soul and body — with the rest of humankind. His is a noble endeavor, indeed.