Chinese Name: 極至體能舞蹈團
Founder: Jesse Shih (石吉智)
Did You Know?
Since its establishment, MAD Theater has been creating new works every year, with a diverse range of styles. In addition to performances throughout Taiwan, they have also participated in international events such as the Chekhov Art Festival in Russia, the Marne Valley Dance Festival in France, the Guangdong Modern Dance Week, the Interface Dance Festival in India, the Mirranu Arts Festival in Australia, and the Paris World Cultural Week.
MAD Theater was founded in August 1997 and is the first professional modern dance troupe in Taichung. It is also the most representative modern dance troupe in central Taiwan. The founder and artistic director, Jesse Shih, originally specialized in fine arts. He graduated from the Fine Arts Education Department of Hsinchu Teachers College and later completed his studies in the Choreography Department of the National Taipei University of the Arts, becoming the first choreographer in Taiwan to have a double major in fine arts and dance. He is known as the “choreographer who paints with the body” and has served as an artist-in-residence at Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, and as an artist-in-residence at various dance-related departments in Taiwan and abroad.
MAD Theater’s work “New Puppet Ballad (掌中芭蕾)” premiered in 2008 and received high praise from the media. “New Puppet Ballad” is an innovative work that combines dance with traditional Taiwanese puppetry. It incorporates modern dance, puppetry, costume design, creative makeup, and installation art. The stage is filled with dozens of puppets, allowing the dancers to dance together with the puppets. This dance piece incorporates elements of traditional Taiwanese temple festivals and subverts Western modern theater design, creating a unique style.
In 2015, MAD Theater premiered a new work called “MAD Olympic Video (奧林痞客：瘋狂運動會),” which is a modern dance drama suitable for families to enjoy together. It combines dance, sports competitions, drama, and the use of props in its performance. This showcases MAD Theater’s novel style compared to other modern dance troupes in Taiwan. In 2016, their work “Flying Encounter (機遇)” was nominated for the 7th Taipei Digital Art Performance Award (台北數位藝術表演獎), making it the first work in Taiwan to feature a collaboration between drones and dancers. In the same year, their new work “The Game with Wind (換位遊戲：大風吹)” premiered, with “wind” as the theme. Multiple large fans were used to blow across the stage set of a “balloon field,” creating a groundbreaking visual and performance art climax. MAD Theater was awarded the highest honor in performing arts in Taichung, the Golden Art Award (金藝獎), in 2016. In 2017, on their 20th anniversary, they presented “Vagaries Space: MAD Kaleidoscope (迷走空間：萬花筒),” which brought large mirrors and movable audience seats onto the stage, successfully creating a disorienting effect where the dancers disappear on stage.
In 2020, their work “Old is New” features a group of elderly community members as the main characters, transforming their mindset and the physical and mental states of aging into a dance theater performance. “Old is New” does not approach “aging” with seriousness, somberness, or sadness. Instead, it explores the social interactions of the elderly community with humor and creativity, including family relationships and issues related to health and aging. Through the creative expression of performing arts, the aim is to allow younger generations to see the novelty of “aging” through the work and reflect on the life issues and social phenomena related to “getting old.” “Getting old” is not something to be feared; instead, it is an opportunity to learn a “new role” in one’s life.
Starting in 2022, MAD Theater has embarked on a new series of creations called “MAD Project,” which combines environmental and architectural elements with performing arts. Following their collaborations with the Asia University Museum of Modern Art and architect Tadao Ando, and the Taitung University Library in a dance performance, they will challenge “non-typical performances” in 2023. The third work in the “MAD Project” series, titled “Weaving Bodies (織體),” will take place in the indigenous village of Nanusa in the Heping District of Taichung City. The performance will be set in a Pinus morrisonicola forest and stone slopes, with clouds, mist, and light as the backdrop. French cellist and ethnomusicologist Franck Bernède, the indigenous performance art group Tayal Myu Workshop (泰雅原舞工坊), and professional dancers from MAD Theater will collaborate to create a fusion of “classical, modern, and indigenous culture,” exploring diverse creative modes of choreography.