japan society showcase

Last night Culturebot went to the 9th Annual Japanese Contemporary Dance Showcase at The Japan Society. It was our first time attending this showcase and we had heard it is always an interesting mix of work. And that was true. There was an interesting and wide range of work. (see John Rockwell’s column in the NY Times.)

Our personal favorites were Shinonome Butoh‘s DO and Youya Shinjo’s WING. Both were powerful and idiosyncratic, beautiful and disturbing. Seemingly hybrids of western art-punk and eastern traditional choreography and aesthetics, both pieces created deep, otherworldly experiences.

Also, Shinonome’s piece was accompanied by music from a guy named Skank, which was really great. Amplified computer and guitar and gizmo’s in what is now, I suppose, a tradition of Japanese “noise music”. And Culturebot is a sucker for noise.

[Sidenote: At Edinburgh over the summer we saw a work by choreographer, video artist and sound designer Darren Johnston called Ren-Sa that was inspired by Japanse horror films like The Ring and The Grudge. It was disturbing and cool.]

Also of note was Yukiko Amano’s Compeito, which opened with Yukiko doing a really cool extended sequence lying on her back, moving only her feet and, occasionally, legs. It is hard to describe but it was like a dance piece using her feet as puppets. That is reductive, but Culturebot is still working on his dance vocabulary. Anyway – the rest of the piece was very athletic and physically impressive. It seemed to draw less on the dancer/choreographer’s Japanese background and more on the vocabulary of modern dance and as such was a pretty impressive display.

These were all U.S. premieres and the showcase is done, so hopefully you’ll get to see some of these artists at a venue near you in the upcoming seasons.

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