Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan ‘Songs of the Wanderers’

Emotive, spiritually provocative, dramatic and at times intentionally uncomfortable. Never before as a piece of dance moved me in such a unique way.

This evening I had the pleasure of watching the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, a unique dance company from Taiwan, perform ‘Songs of the Wanderers’. A striking homage to the spiritual pilgrimage of Siddhartha and his journey to enlightenment.

The stage is bare but for a monk standing at the edge of the stage under a steady stream of golden rice pouring onto his bald head. He remains still, in contemplation and peace for the entire 90 minute performance.

cloud gate monk

The pouring rice provides a tumbling meditative hum that ties the entire show together. It is steady, continuous, knowing… never faltering.

The dance is unusual. A blend of slow motion movements focusing on strength and lines. There are nods to yoga, a practice rooted in Hinduism, Siddhartha’s previous religion. The dancers mostly work in canon, sometimes without music, and yet perfectly synchronised, and always exact.

The stage is completed covered in golden rice, which provides a unique prop and narrative device to add drama and statement. The rice is thrown in the air, trickled through finger tips, the light catches it to create fireworks and rain.

There are moments when rice pours down onto the stage, the result is breathtaking.

song of wanderers

All the while a dancer regularly returns to the stage, in the background, and rakes the rice as one would with a zen garden.

As somebody with respect, understanding and affinity with eastern religions and belief systems I appreciated the fusion of elements of the story told from the perspectives of different Asian countries. It was subtle, but appreciated.

The dancers were incredible. Strong and intentional, their sequences amplified beautiful scenes and moments. There were some real moments of magic that you could savour and appreciate because the speed of the piece was so gentle.

At the end of the performance, when the applause and bows are over, we are treated to a further piece of meditation as once more the rice raker takes us through a zen garden practice over the entire stage before the house lights gently come up.


Songs of the Wanderer is unlike any other dance performance I’ve ever seen. It’s dramatic but at a pace we might not be familiar with.

If you want to experience contemporary dance with a strong emphasis on skill, reflection, strength then get yourself to Birmingham to see this. It is only a two-day run so final show is Wednesday 11th May.

songs of the wanderers

Watch the trailer here:

This is such unique opportunity to be a part of. I highly recommend you get involved.

Tickets cost just £15 at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

This show is part of the International Dance Festival Birmingham, a biannual dance festival that runs for May 1 to 22.