Tsai Jui-yueh

Tsai Jui-yueh (Chinese: 蔡瑞月; pinyin: Cài Ruìyuè; 8 February 1921 – 29 May 2005) was a Taiwanese dancer and choreographer regarded as the mother of modern dance in Taiwan.

The location of Tsai's dance studio, pictured in 2006
Tsai's rebuilt dance studio in September 2013

Life and careerEdit

Born in Tainan on 8 February 1921,[1] Tsai made her way to Japan in 1937 to study dance under Baku Ishii [ja] and Midori Ishii.[2][3][4] Prior to leaving Taiwan, Tsai's experience with dancing included aerobic dance class in elementary school and watching Japanese groups in high school.[3] She had heard a Japanese person refer to Taiwan as a "barren desert for dance" and sought to return in order to promote the art of dance in Taiwan, declining a personal dance recital in Tokyo arranged by Midori Ishii.[3] Tsai returned to Taiwan in 1946,[2] and grew in popularity during this period, in part because she accepted every offer to perform.[3]

She married the Indonesian-Chinese poet Lei Shih-yu [zh], who taught at National Taiwan University, in 1947.[3][5] Lei was imprisoned by Kuomintang authorities in June 1949 and later deported to Guangdong.[3][4] Tsai was sent to Green Island shortly thereafter and released three years later, but barred from leaving Taiwan.[2][5] In 1953, she founded her own school of dance at the China Dance Club, later known as the Tsai Jui-yueh Dance Research Institute.[6][7] Tsai's travel restrictions were lifted in 1983,[3] and she moved to Australia to live and work with her son, a dancer who was a student of Elizabeth Dalman.[8] Tsai's studio was left to daughter-in-law Ondine Hsiao and Hsiao's sister Grace.[9] The building was to be demolished in 1994, but plans were called off after three dancers protested by suspending themselves in the air via crane for 24 hours.[10] The Taipei City government named Tsai's studio a municipal heritage site in October 1999. Four days later, the building burned in a suspected arson attack.[7] Reconstruction efforts began in March 2002.[11] Tsai died in Brisbane, Australia, on 29 May 2005, aged 84.[12]


The inaugural Tsai Jui-Yueh International Dance Festival was organized in her honor in 2006.[13][14] Her former studio opened as a museum in May 2007 and a memorial was added to the site in March 2008.[15][16] In 2017, the Tsai Jui-yueh Dance Research Institute and the Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation and Memorial Museum jointly organized demonstrations marking the anniversary of the February 28 incident.[17] Tsai's life was commemorated by the National Human Rights Commission, a division of the Control Yuan, in November 2020.[18]

Tsai is considered the mother of modern dance in Taiwan.[13][8][11][15] One of her students, Henry Yu, has been called the father of Taiwanese modern dance.[19]


  1. ^ "Dancer | Tsai Jui-yueh". Ministry of Culture. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Chen, Ya-ping (5 September 2016). "Tsai Jui-Yueh (1921–2005)". Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. doi:10.4324/9781135000356-REM83-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Han Chueng (28 May 2017). "Born to groove". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b Baker, Diane (2 November 2007). "Dance imitates life in remembering Tsai Jui-yueh". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b Baker, Diane (31 October 2014). "Dance on the move". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Tsai Jui-yueh Dance Research Institute". Taipei City Government. Department of Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b Chu, Monique (31 October 1999). "Dance studio gutted by blaze". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b Lee, Vico (21 February 2003). "Giving peace a dance". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  9. ^ Baker, Diane (19 December 2008). "Yule be in the mood for a little song and dance". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  10. ^ Lii Wen (31 October 2014). "Dance festival promotes social activism in Taipei". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  11. ^ a b Ko, Shu-ling (13 September 2001). "China Dance Club studio reconstruction plan ready". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Madre de la Danza de Taiwan deja rico legado". Noticas de Taiwan (in Spanish). 26 July 2005. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  13. ^ a b Mead, David (9 November 2007). "Tsai Jui-yueh Dance Festival". Ballet Dance Magazine. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  14. ^ Baker, Diane (3 November 2016). "Memories of greatness". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  15. ^ a b Ko, Shu-ling (14 May 2007). "Historic studio of dance legend opens as museum". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  16. ^ Loa, Iok-sin (30 March 2008). "Monument opened to Tsai Jui-yueh, a pioneer of dance". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  17. ^ Hsiao, Sherry (22 February 2021). "More than 200 march in Taipei in memory of 228". Taipei Times. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  18. ^ Chen, Yun; Pan, Jason (22 November 2020). "Commission celebrates life of 'mother' of modern dance". Taipei Times. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  19. ^ Baker, Diane (26 December 2008). "Oldies but goodies". Taipei Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.