I-Fang Lin tells the story of her life journey in Taiwan and France in “En Chinoiseries”. She choreographs the piece based on the karaoke culture in Taiwan, and mixes nostalgic Taiwanese songs with electric guitar playing and French singing. You hear the French singer François Marry and I-Fang Lin sing and dance to songs such as Ye Lai Xiang, the national flag anthem, Thinn Oo-oo, The Moon Represents My Heart, and more.
The cross-cultural encounter is performed by Marry singing in Mandarin or changing the flag anthem to French lyrics, and by a mixture of synthesizer beats and Asian instruments. The result might well tell of I-Fang Lin’s struggle rather than her success in the foreign land.
The piece is structured as a series of dance numbers, to a playlist of songs. This loose setting might be the perfect interpretation of I-Fang Lin’s generation, which staggers between identities. Understandably, under such chaos, the most visible image of Taiwan are the stereotypes of karaoke, romantic pop songs and the nationalist flag anthem. Yet it’s a shame to miss the far more diverse history and culture of Taiwan, and a more original way to perform the cultural encounter.
As Marry lies on a trailer and sings in the last scene, it reminds you of those tourism-promotion videos where white foreigners wander around in an exotic place. You convince yourself that you don’t have the luxury of asking an independent territory without global recognition to develop own identity. So you meh about it, and applaud, and leave.