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  • Megan Andrews

Because of the singing

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

Master Class

Bulareyaung Pagarlava and company

Bulareyaung Dance Company Master class. Photo by Kendra Epik.

I only caught the very end of this class, so you might ask, why write about it? And I will tell you – it’s because of the singing! (And if you saw Program 3 already, you will know what I mean.)


I arrived at the rehearsal hall in the inner core of MERIDIAN HALL and found the group of participants sitting in a circle while members of Bulareyaung Dance Company spoke about various traditional clothing and accessories from several Taiwanese tribes. (I heard later from a participant that they had spent the earlier part of the workshop learning various steps and songs and dancing together in circle formation.) Many pieces were displayed on the studio floor and as the pieces were explained, a dancer would put them on. Some were from grandparents of the dancers, and other family members. I was surprised that the dancers had brought all these beautiful embroidered garments with them as I don’t think they’re part of the performance. When Bula spoke about the clothing from the Paiwanese tribe (his own), one of the other dancers noted that these garments are the most beautiful. Apparently, the Paiwanese are known as a very artistic people.

Bulareyaung Dance Company Member sharing traditional Paiwanese Clothing. Photo by Kendra Epik.

After the clothing was folded and gathered away, Bula announced that the men would conclude the class by singing a song from the work they are performing in the festival. (They draw on elements of the distinctive Indigenous Taiwanese pasibutbut, a complex polyphonic singing technique.) So they stood in a group facing us and one of them sang a few tones to set pitch.

And then they sang. And the room reverberated with deep harmonies and fulsome calls. It was just a little bit magic. Moments before, they had been laughing and talking in an everyday social, interactive state of being. But as soon as they stood before us and opened their mouths to sing, they dropped immediately into vulnerability and commitment.


They didn’t perform the song, they became it.


It was more real than real, and I could almost feel the vibrations realigning the cells of my body somehow. I was already excited to see their work and now, even more so.

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Artistic Director 
ILTER IBRAHIMOF

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