Mobilizing To Dance


In light of the Occupy Wall Street protests, as well as the uprisings in London and the Middle East earlier this year, it seems that people are assembling more than ever. But in Taiwan, 700 army academy cadets recently gathered to celebrate, not to complain: in commemoration of its 100th anniversary earlier this week, the island’s government organized a number of festivities, including a jubilant synchronized dance.

Described by The New York Times as a “super-scale human mosaic squad”, the routine required one month of practicing to master and drew its motions from military-like calisthenics: close-ups reveal that the performers created alternating shades by mechanically opening and closing their jackets, revealing different colored shirts underneath. The resulting animations include cheery images like a cake with twinkling musical notes, a castle with exploding fireworks, and even a Facebook “Like” or thumbs up icon.

Additional elements of the centennial celebration also included a dramatic appearance from China’s former president Jiang Zemin, rumored to be dead, as well as a record-breaking cake, made by 10 chefs over two days with 400 eggs, 12 kilograms of flour, and large quantities of local fruit. It may seem a bit excessive, but the grandiosity reveals the historical significance of the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, which ended 2,000 years of imperial Chinese rule and gave birth to the Taiwan of today.

While China used the occasion to somewhat paradoxically propose reunification, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou boldly rebuffed, instead urging China's government to pursue democracy and respect his island's self-governance. So though the somewhat silly dance may have only been a fraction of the festivities, the spectacle seems symbolically appropriate: the medium of dance inspires associations of freedom, and the coordinated routine calls a relentless solidarity to mind. Here’s to another 100 years, Taiwan.