Ben Nienhuis

British Council in Taiwan has always strived to bring fresh perspectives for our audiences in Taiwan about contemporary UK arts. Recent years we’ve discovered that arts has become a catalyst for social change through showcase, exchange, and co-creation in both UK and Taiwan. Artists in their works have expanded their attentions from self-expression, dialogue with art-goers to investigating our world that is predominantly seen by the mainstream abled people, and often missed the views from people with disabilities. We believe that there is need to promote more public awareness and participation in celebrating creativity and artistic excellence from diverse and under-represented communities.  Hence, starting from 2017 we would like to introduce outstanding UK artists to Taiwan to encourage the discovery of differences through disability arts and to celebrate the creativity and power from their art works to transform the society.

Claire Cunningham’s solo dance work 'Give Me a Reason to Live', as a study in the notion and provocation of empathy, invites the audience to bring with her the curiosity in the potential for movement with crutches and to witness the creativity and aesthetics grown from such experiment. Originally a classically trained singer, after working with UK choreographer, she discovered a new way of performance incorporating her voice and dance movement, which became her unique artistic language, and gained wide praise at important international stage including Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Unlimited Festival at Southbank Centre, Perth International Arts Festival, and etc.  Claire Cunningham is a versatile artist, a critical thinker.  Physical disability does not undermine her in any way.

Together with 'Dance Autumn Festival' at National Theatre in Taipei, British Council proudly stages Claire Cunningham’s debut performance, a first timer for international disability-led contemporary dance showcase in Taiwan.  Along with the public forum and two dance workshops offered to both abled and disabled dancers, we hope this program will generate more dynamic artistic exchange and contribute to a transformational impact that arts can make in social change in Taiwan and the UK.  

About the programme

Claire Cunningham is one of the UK's most acclaimed and internationally renowned disabled artists. Her solo show, Give Me a Reason to Live, inspired by the works of the 15th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, aims to explore religion's judgment of souls and its extended meaning of life. With the music and lighting similar to the ambience in a church, Claire Cunningham tries to question and criticize faith with the limits of her body. The 40-minute performance, starting from soundless cries to eventually revealing her disabled body without embellishment, shows strong images and inspiration. Sydney Morning Herald acclaims that this work presents “strange beauty and incredible strength”!


Choreographer and Performer: Claire Cunningham

Lighting Design: Karsten Tinapp

Sound Design: Zoë Irvine

Cello: Matthias Herrmann

Additional Music: Nesciens Mater, Jean Mouton, Den Tod, JS Bach

Costume: Shanti Freed

Production Manager and Re-Lighting: Gregor Knüppel

Claire Cunningham

Claire Cunningham is a performer and creator of multi-disciplinary performance based in Glasgow, Scotland. One of the UK’s most acclaimed and internationally renowned disabled artists, Cunningham’s work is often rooted in the study and use/misuse of her crutches and the exploration of the potential of her own specific physicality with a conscious rejection of traditional dance techniques (developed for non-disabled bodies) or the attempt to move with the pretence of a body or aesthetic other than her own.  A self-identifying disabled artist, Cunningham’s work combines multiple artforms and ranges from the intimate solo show ME (Mobile/Evolution) (2009), to the large ensemble work 12 made for Candoco Dance Company. In 2014 she created a new solo: Give Me a Reason to Live, inspired by the work of Dutch medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch and the role of beggars/cripples in his work, and the full length show Guide Gods, looking at the perspectives of the major Faith traditions towards the issue of disability.    

She is a former Artist-in–Residence at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank, London and of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens. In 2016 she was the Artist in Residence with Perth International Arts Festival, Australia and Associate Artist at Tramway, Glasgow, and she has recently been awarded an Unlimited Commission for a new duet, The Way You Look (at me) Tonight with choreographer Jess Curtis which has now toured in the UK, USA and Germany.

Ticket information

  • Date: 18 October 20:00

            19 October 20:00

  • Location: Experimental Theater, National Theater and Concert Hall (No. 12-1, Zhongshan South Road, Taipei, Taiwan)
  • Duration: Approximately 40 minutes without intermission.
  • The age guidance for this production is 12+.
  • Post-talk: After every performance at the Experimental Theater.
  • Priority entry is given to ticket holders for wheelchair user seats and their companies at 19:15-19:30. One wheelchair user is limited to one company only. Doors open to general admission from 19:30.

Seminar and talks

Seminar with Claire Cunningham

  • Date: 15 October 14:30-16:30
  • Location: Rehearsal Studios, National Theater and Concert Hall 
  • Speakers: Claire Cunningham and Yao Lee-Chun (Directore, Guling Street Avant-garde Theatre)
  • Seating: 60 people


"Permission to Speak" workshop (2 sessions)

  • Date: 14 October 14:00-17:00
             14 October 19:00-22:00
  • Location: Rehearsal Studios, National Theater and Concert Hall 
  • Speaker: Claire Cunningham 
  • Seating: 15 people 
  • The age guidance for this workshop is 18+

External links