Taiwanese Ocean Celebration performance makes a splash

Singer Usay Kawlu and ballerina Lin yi Jiun perform a song and dance number during the first act of the “Ocean Celebration” put on by the Diabolo Dance Theatre at the Satellite Student Union on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (Larry Valenzuela/ The Collegian)

Hundreds of people were at the Satellite Student Union (SSU) on Sept. 13 to experience a unique show of Taiwanese dancing, lights, music and the dancing tool: the diabolo. 

The Diabolo Dance Theatre had a showing on campus, and the SSU had a sea of people nearly filling up every seat to catch the performance of Ocean Celebration.  The dance group’s stop in Fresno was only one of the 14 cities it will be performing in this year in the U.S. 

The group utilizes the diabolo, a juggling and circus prop, which consists of two cups and a string. The cups are spun using the string attached to two handles, similar to a yo-yo. 

The night began with a word from Director General Joseph Ma of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco. Ma spoke about how the group was chosen to travel to America to promote Taiwanese culture all over the world. 

“This performance will capture the beauty of the island of Taiwan, integrated with music, dance, gymnastics and multimedia effects,” Ma said. “I believe, through this performance, you will be able to understand the beauty and vibrancy of the Taiwanese culture.” 

The 14-act performance began with the show’s vocalist, Usay Kawlu. Kawlu was then joined on stage by ballerina Lin Yi Jiun for a song and dance duo. 

The rest of the show featured drum solos from percussionist Huang Sheng Yun, gymnastic performances from acrobat dancer Tsai Pao Ching and a comedic showing from Liu Nai Wen, who played the Clown Fish. 

The diabolo was seen continuously throughout the show, utilized in a variety of ways by the performers. Most notably, there were two large strings suspended over the crowd as the diabolo cups were spun down, back and forth, above the crowd. 

Two children were called up to the stage by Wen to perform with the diabolo as well. 

The show featured a large amount of colorful lighting, which Fresno Area Taiwanese Association president Wen Leu said was brought in by a team of specialists. 

The show concluded with one last singing number from Kawlu, and the rest of the dancing group followed through in one last demonstration of their individual skills. 

Director of the show Liu Le Chun said that he believes that he not only promotes the Taiwanese culture but showcases how the island of Taiwan is also inviting of other cultures with the use of the Japanese drum integrated by a Taiwanese style. The performance has no language. 

“When you see the diabolo dance, you’re not only seeing an Asian tradition or performance. You see a modern concept that combines theater, dance and everything you could imagine,” Chun said. “So I hope you can imagine Taiwan as a creative island and a creative people, and I welcome all of you to come visit our island.”

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