Esplanade Presents


13 Tongues

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan

3 Feb 2023, Fri, 8pm

4 Feb 2023, Sat, 8pm

1hr 5mins

(Intermission: None)

Esplanade Theatre

This event is over.

Photo Credit: Lee Chia-yeh
Photo Credit: Liu Chen-hsiang
Photo Credit: Liu Chen-hsiang
Photo Credit: Liu Chen-hsiang

“13 Tongues demonstrates beautifully the extraordinary, elemental quality of the Cloud Gate dancers, energy coursing through their butter-soft, titanium-strength bodies, limbs curling like tendrils of smoke.” – The Guardian


“13 Tongues is a sensationally big, indulgent, and visually arresting expression of cultural memory.” – The Times


Taipei’s oldest district is brought to brilliant life in 13 Tongues, Cloud Gate Artistic Director Cheng Tsung-lung’s deeply personal yet unabashedly celebratory dance love letter to Bangka.


Beginning and ending with the sound of a single bell, the realms of the spiritual and human coalesce in a visually and sonically arresting spectacle. Against a bizarre projection reminiscent of temple lights, dancers move and travel in serpentine patterns, chanting mysterious mantras as they stomp, stagger and tremble like enchanted shamans against music that ranges from Taiwanese folk songs to Taoist chants to electronica. As the lights dim, striking fluorescent patterns emerge on their costumes and flow across space, evoking the wandering spirits of Bangka.


As a child in the 1980s, Cloud Gate Artistic Director Cheng Tsung-lung helped his father sell slippers on the streets of Bangka, a vibrant district in Taipei, known for its diverse and bustling street scene that embraced the religious and the secular, the lawful and the illicit, and the rich and the poor. In particular, he was transfixed by his mother’s accounts of how the legendary 1960s street artist and storyteller known as Thirteen Tongues would effortlessly concoct tales and vividly conjure up the many inhabitants of Bangka in all their shapes and forms. From this fascination birthed the inspiration for 13 Tongues, for which Cheng transformed his childhood memories of Bangka into dance.


Part real, part dream, 13 Tongues takes you on a journey that mesmerises just like the stories told by Thirteen Tongues. As you journey through Bangka, what separates deities, spirits and humans slowly fades away.


Performance will include some use of strobe lighting.


Mask-wearing is optional. However, audiences are encouraged to continue to exercise responsibility and caution, such as wearing masks when in crowded places.


There will be a post-show dialogue conducted in Mandarin with choreographer, Cheng Tsung-lung after each performance.

Admission Age:
6 and above.
Language: Songs will be performed in Taiwanese dialects for a few sections.
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Artist Information

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan

Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | X

Cloud Gate is the name of the oldest known dance in China. In 1973, choreographer Lin Hwai-min adopted this classical name and founded the first contemporary dance company in the greater Chinese-speaking community. In 2020, Cheng Tsung-lung succeeded Lin as the company’s Artistic Director, bringing together his creative works with traditional roots and excitingly innovative perspectives from the digital and globalized world.


Cloud Gate dancers receive training in meditation; qi gong, an ancient breathing exercise; internal martial arts; modern dance; and ballet. Under the direction of Cheng, training has expanded to encompass other contemporary elements. Manifesting in choreographies, the company transforms ancient aesthetics into a thrilling and modern celebration of motion.


Cloud Gate has toured worldwide with frequent engagements at the Next Wave Festival in New York, the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, the Moscow Chekhov International Theatre Festival in Russia, the Movimentos International Dance Festival, and the Internationales Tanzfest NRW directed, then by Pina Bausch in Germany. The international press acclaims the company as “Asia’s leading contemporary dance theater” (The Times), and “One of the best dance companies in the world” (FAZ). Cloud Gate has been honoured as an “Outstanding Company” in the UK National Dance Awards.

Cheng Tsung-Lung

From street hawker selling slippers to internationally recognised choreographer, Cheng Tsung-lung succeeded Lin Hwai-min as Artistic Director of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan in 2020. Cheng took his first dance class at the age of eight. Upon graduation from the Dance Department, Taipei National University of the Arts, he joined Cloud Gate in 2002 and became the Artistic Director of Cloud Gate 2 in 2014.


Cheng has been awarded prestigious prizes for his choreography internationally as well as at home, such as the No Ballet International Choreography Competition (Germany), the Premio Roma Danza International Choreography Competition (Italy), the MASDANZA Choreography Competition (Spain) and the Taishin Arts Award (Taiwan). He has also worked with companies from all over the world including Sydney Dance Company, the Transitions Dance Company at the Laban Centre, London, Expressions Dance Company, Brisbane, and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.


Cheng’s work is deeply rooted in both ancient and modern Taiwanese culture—he is a strong supporter of Cloud Gate’s extensive engagement with grassroots audiences across Taiwan—yet it also embraces global influences. His work, 13 Tongues (2016) integrates folk dance, religious rites, and Taoist chant to vividly conjure the streets where he worked as a child. Lunar Halo (2019) is performed to an ethereally haunting soundtrack by Icelandic musicians Singur Rós and explores the complex area of human connection and technology. Sounding Light (2020) was written in response to COVID pandemic-induced isolation and reflects on the precariousness of both human and the natural world. Visually stunning, Send In A Cloud (2022) displays in shifting colors a panorama of dancers’ life journeys.


Cheng has been a fixture of Routledge’s respected annual survey of dance practitioners, Fifty Contemporary Choreographers (2020), alongside the likes of William Forsythe, Akram Khan, Hofesh Shechter and leaders of this form.

Date & Time

3 Feb 2023, Fri


Esplanade Theatre

4 Feb 2023, Sat


Esplanade Theatre
Tickets & Prices

Students, NSFs & Seniors

Cat 1 $108 - $30
Cat 2 $88 - $30
Cat 3 $58 $46 $30
Cat 4 $38 $30 $30

Esplanade&Me Specials

Early Bird (15 – 21 Dec 2022, limited tickets)
Black: 20% savings
White: 15% savings
Discover: 15% savings (Min. of 2 tickets)

From 22 Dec 2022, 9am
Black: 15% savings  
White: 10% savings (Limited tickets)
Discover: 10% savings (Min. of 2 tickets, limited tickets)


Applicable to Standard Cat 1 & 2 tickets only. Terms and Conditions apply.

Tote Board Arts Grant

All Secondary Schools, Junior Colleges/ Centralised Institute & ITEs may use the Tote Board Arts Grant to subsidise up to 50% of the programme cost.


For more details, please contact Esplanade Box Office at 6828 8389 or email


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