Choreographer Lo Man-fei dies of lung cancer aged 51

The China Post staff

Lo Man-fei, a renowned dancer and choreographer in Asia and artistic director of Cloud Gate 2, died of lung cancer early yesterday morning at the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center, at the age of 51. Founder Lin Hwai-min of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, Lo’s elder sister and close relatives all accompanied Lo till she bid a farewell to the world peacefully. According to Lo’s relatives, what she cared about in her final hours was still dance and choreography, as she continued to watch videotapes of choreographic performances of her students, while lying in the ward. The cancer center will send Lo’s remains back to her hometown in Ilan County, northeastern Taiwan.

Lo was found to have committed lung cancer in September 2001, but has lived well after receiving medical treatment. In October 2005, Lo was hospitalized again, and doctors said she had only two months left. But after taking anti-lung-cancer medicines brought back by her elder sister from the U.S., Lo recovered significantly and soon returned to her favorite dancing job. In February, Lo’s lung cancer worsened and spread to her brain, making her unable to step out of the hospital in the long run.

Lo received an MFA in dance from New York University, and began her professional career in 1974 with the Neo-Classic Dance Co. in Taiwan, and continued her training at the Martha Graham School, the Alvin Ailey School of American Dance, and the Jose Limon Dance School in New York. In 1979, she joined Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and was appointed as the Artistic Director of Cloud Gate 2 since 1999. Acclaimed by her great dedication to the arts field, Lo received “Wu San-lien Award of Literature and Arts” from Wu San-lien Awards Foundation in 1999, and “National Award for the Arts” from National Culture and Arts Foundation in 2000. Lo’s major choreographic works include Three Etudes: The Snake (2000), Restless Souls (1999), Chronicle of a Floating City (1997), City of the Sky (1996), The Place Where the Hear Is (1995), The Beginning (1994) and Paradise Lost (1994), all the works staged at the Cloud Gate Dance Theater. According to legend, Cloud Gate is the name of the oldest known dance in China, in ritual dance of some 5,000 years ago. In 1973, choreographer Lin Hwai-min adopted this classical name for the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese speaking community: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. In 1999, Cloud Gate 2 was founded to foster young choreographers, and to tour campuses and grass-root communities in Taiwan.

Made up of one-dozen young dancers in an average of 25 years old, whose training disciplines include modern dance, ballet and Tai-chi, Cloud Gate 2 aims to develop a more in-depth binding with academic and suburban communities in Taiwan through its performances, workshops and lecture demonstrations.