Lin Hwai-min

Lin Hwai-min

The mentor

Published in 2013

Hailed as Asia’s premier choreographer, Lin Hwai-min, founder and artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, often draws from Asian cultures and aesthetics to create works with contemporary resonance that have won him international acclaim.

In honouring Lin with the prestigious Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013, the jury stated, Lin Hwai-min is “one of the most dynamic and innovative choreographers today... His choreographic brilliance continues to push boundaries and redefine the art form.”

Lin reveals that he became “hooked” on dance at age five after watching the famous British film, The Red Shoes, 11 times. But, it was only when he saw the American modern-dance giant José Limón perform 10 years later that he decided to be a dancer. After training in New York, Lin returned to his native Taiwan in 1973 to found Cloud Gate, the first contemporary dance company in all Chinese-speaking communities.

A writer-turned-choreographer, Lin reinterpreted Chinese epics and traditional opera in many of his early works. In the 1990s, he abandoned narrative and began creating abstract dances with a new vocabulary inspired by Qi Gong, martial arts and calligraphy. With creations such as Moon Water, the Cursive trilogy and Water Stains on the Wall, the company’s reputation soared. “No company in the world dances like Cloud Gate,” Dance Europe commented. “The importance of this evolution in Asian dance is no less profound than the impact of [William] Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt on European classical ballet.”

Lin also fosters young Taiwanese choreographers through Cloud Gate 2, the company he founded in 1999. The recipient of numerous awards, among them the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Movimentos Dance Prize, he was celebrated as one of “Asia’s Heroes” by Time Asia in 2005.