E.Sha Song and Dance Group, also known as E.Sha Musical Troupe, was a Taiwanese version of the Takarazuka Revue. It began in 1959 and ended in 1985, reaching peak popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. Its cast was made up exclusively of well-trained young girls, known as “Sha Girls.” Its re...(Read more)
E.Sha Song and Dance Group, also known as E.Sha Musical Troupe, was a Taiwanese version of the Takarazuka Revue. It began in 1959 and ended in 1985, reaching peak popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. Its cast was made up exclusively of well-trained young girls, known as “Sha Girls.” Its repertoire consisted of creative adaptations of texts from various cultures and countries around the world. Its on-stage style was reminiscent of the Baroque, with gorgeous costumes, grand stages and props, and vibrant, energetic young women. Not only was every E.Sha performance a hit in Taiwan, it also swept across Southeast Asia, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. E.Sha’s success was unprecedented and has been difficult to emulate, but unfortunately with time the glamor faded and E.Sha was largely forgotten. This documentary aims to “represent” E.Sha. It brings together the now-middle-aged Sha Girls and newly recruited teenage girls in workshops to bring E.Sha back to the stage. Meanwhile, it also teaches back to E.Sha’s golden age, the 60s and 70s in Taiwan.
E.Sha was the largest and longest-running troupe in the history of performance, theater, and popular entertainment in Taiwan, and was a legend. Contemporary audiences might compare it to Broadway musicals, but its inspiration is in fact from the Japanese Takarazuka Revue. Both American and Japanese cultures have had a huge influence on Taiwan. Unfortunately the radical queerness of the Takarazuka Revue is thin in this documentary, though a feminist sisterhood indeed grows between the two generations of E.Sha Girls. Unlike the long-lived Taiwanese Opera, E.Sha was active primarily in the 1960s and 1970s, when Taiwan was undergoing great and rapid social, political, and economic transformation. At the outset, E.Sha differentiated itself from then-popular striptease with a “no nudity” policy, which marked the emergence of modern popular entertainment along with economic development. Taiwan was still under martial law at that time, and so was E.Sha. Backstage, the girls’ dorm was managed under patriarchal and militaristic rules. On stage, E.Sha’s performances were first filmed by the government to serve as propaganda to counter striptease, and later to fight against “banned songs” through E.Sha’s obligation to give “patriotic performances” for soldiers in military camps. When Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, the whole island entered a period of mourning, and all entertainment was forbidden, including E.Sha. In the 1980s, E.Sha had less and less space to perform as theaters embarked on spatial transformation to make more room for the emergence of segment marketing. Taiwan’s social, cultural, political, and economic history is present on the stage among the exotic, escapist, and sometimes erotic songs and dances. To recall E.Sha’s story is to revisit Taiwan in the 1960s and 1970s. Moreover, this film is by no means only meant to record; in fact, it records what it enacts. The production plan helps the original E.Sha Girls get reunited and at last get onstage again. The object of the camera is formed by the camera itself. The making of this documentary is at the same time the revival of E.Sha.
|DVD source：||R.O.C. Ministry of Foreign Affairs.|
|Taiwan Academies, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C. please contact Embassies, Representative Offices of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, R.O.C.|
|Subtitle：||Chinese, English, French, Spanish|
|Bodo TSENG, LI Meng-Zhe, FENG Hsin-Hua, LU Yuan-CI|
Mada Ideas Company
2008 Kaohsiung Film Festival
2009 Women Make Waves Film Festival, Closing Film
2010 Taiwan International Documentary Festival, nominated for Taiwan Award
2010 Golden Horse Awards, nominated for Best Documentary