Cheng's work, 13 Tongues, is inspired by a story his mother told him about a street artist in Taipei in the 1970s. (Photo provided to China Daily)
The pieces choreographed by Cheng have been shown in many countries, including Blue Hour, which was inspired by a sleepless night in the early spring of 2013 in New York, and Beckoning, which features Taiwanese folk dancing and religious statues.
The production of 13 Tongues is Cheng's first full-length work with Cloud Gate 2, which was founded by renowned choreographer Lin Hwai-min in 1999.
Unlike its mother troupe, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, the contemporary dance company founded by Lin in 1973 as the first modern dance company for all Chinese-speaking communities, Cloud Gate 2's main focus is showcasing the work of talented young choreographers and dancers from Taiwan.
"When I showed 13 Tongues to Lin for the first time, I was worried because my choreography is very different from his work, which are meditative and poetic, and combine ancient aesthetics with a modern approach," Cheng says. "He called it a 'bold idea'."
By the end of 2019, 71-year-old Lin will step down as artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater and Cheng will succeed him. Lin will stay on as a board member of Cloud Gate Foundation and his choreographic works will also remain in the company's repertoire.