I have been to Tjimur tribe and Sandimen many years ago as a tourist since it is not too far away from my hometown, Kaohsiung. The unfamiliarity of the spelling and the sound of the name, “Tjimur,” that I felt then seems to reflect how limited I have known and experienced about aboriginal cultures here in Taiwan.
Not completely as a tourist this time, the participation in Tjimur Arts Festival was full of surprises and new discovery because I got to interact with the local people, immerse myself in the tribe for several days, and even present a collaborative performance piece to the local people with other resident artists.
I feel very grateful for this opportunity to be part of this residency project and hope more students from TNUA in the future are also able to experience this intimate encounter with Tjimur Dance Theatre and Paiwan aesthetics and history.
Living, creating, and communicating in Sandimen Township for a week, I experienced deep impact from not only aboriginal arts and cultures but also aboriginal people’s persistence for their life style and culture! Systematization, aesthetic view and life styles influence one another. What is revealed in our artistic creations and exchanges is a language that cannot be easily spoken. We find freedom in discipline, create our rhythm in restriction, and see Paiwan cultures in our interaction. The Paiwan culture that combines both ethnic culture and language with modern art is no longer just some ancient chanting but more charms of Paiwan culture through daily life. The experience here is authentic, and the concept of living thus is highlighted. Aboriginal culture used to be far away to me, but after living there for just a few days, I felt as if I were one of them, part of tribe.
Into the tribe, following the pace of tribal life, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is indeed a very different feeling.
I’m an aborigine, so the tribe doesn’t seem too far away from me, but whenever I step into the tribe, the affected still rises. Maybe it’s the humidity in the air, or the smell of the firewood, or the singing of the choir in the church, but that’s the most sincere feeling in the tribe.
The theme of the festival, “Rest”, was a different kind of resting journey, a break from the pace of the past, and a different perspective to feel and listen to the present moment of life.
After living in Sandimen tribe for a week, I saw the simple atmosphere of life, the relationship and warmth among people, and the self-confidence of the people here. I think it must be the culture and the nutrients that support them and make them grow. I have always thought that the aboriginal culture is beautiful, but because the festival gave me a deeper understanding of aboriginal culture, it seems that the word “beauty” is not enough to describe it
This journey made me even more envious of people with deep-rooted culture. I was born in Macau and have based in Hong Kong later. Growing up with the combination of Chinese and Western cultures and wandering in the fast paced city made me almost forget what life should be and where my root is.
Thanks to Tjimur Dance Theatre for organizing an such organic and open art festival. Art should be so organic and simple as it is.
I was fascinated by the landscape, and kindness of the people, from the artists to the families we’ve visited. Although I felt sometimes overwhelmed by the language barrier and intimidated at times, I appreciate all the help I received. There were also some elements that reminded me of other places I’ve visited in the past, like the smell of the smoke similar to the town where I used to live in India, and the marigold flowers that are used in both Mexico and India, reminding me that at the end, all human beings share things in common. The rehearsals for try-out were challenging because I don’t usually create for outdoor spaces, so it was scary and exciting at the same time. It really made me go out of my comfort zone in terms of the creative process, and the use of voice for performance. But I felt supported by my team at all times. During the whole visit I asked myself why haven’t I visited indigenous communities in my own country, and I hope that after doing it in Taiwan, I will be able to do it when I go back to Mexico. It was a very inspiring journey.
This was my first time visiting Sandimen. I learned in great depth about the history of the Paiwan people, and growing closer to the tribe helped me gain a more comprehensive understanding of the different cultures that cohabit Taiwan. Alleys were quiet, and one could peacefully sit, freely enjoy one’s time there, and gaze up at the sun, which reclined in the sky above and illuminated the mountainous scenery.
I have learned aboriginal music and dance in the past, but this time, by experiencing the lifestyle of the tribe firsthand, I more deeply experienced its feeling and atmosphere, which was always sincerely and movingly expressed, such as in the indigenous songs that we sang together. I have experienced the source of the culture, character and flavor that permeates performances by Tjimur Dance Theatre, which I have viewed on multiple occasions during the past few years. Tjimur Art Festival has been an opportunity to both integrate myself into this tribal atmosphere and to live in the present moment. It has thus been a most precious time of rest for me.