to go is to be going, but not to get there – Mina Nishimura & Julian Barnett Double Plus

Samuel Hanson, Emily Climer, Tyler Rai & Anna Rogovoy in Mina Nishimura’s “Sinking While Floating, Singing While Thinking” Photo by Scott Shaw

In his curatorial note for a recent Double Plus program at Gibney Dance, Kota Yamazaki mentioned a “boring time” that the enigmatic mechanisms of our bodies might invite us into during certain dances. He entreated us to consider that this time is most important for allowing our unconsciousness to expand and float on a vast ocean. As I watched both Julian Barnett and Mina Nishimura’s works on the shared program, both have also appeared in Kota’s work previously, I felt myself edging towards a similar state introduced to me from Salvador Dali’s “slumbering with the key.” A state I am exploring in current dance and installation practices, this hypnagogic state is like a millisecond long power nap, the consciousness before losing consciousness. Here, thoughts are freed from linearity or reasonable binds. There, processing systems allow the universe to expand and retract as an infinite sponge. Where bodies transmute from human familiars to alien exotica. Near space, time, energy, sound and Asami Morita’s eloquent designs for light reach far into and far out of subtle shifts and agitations.  

Mina’s Sinking While Floating, Singing While Thinking  plays out as if she had exploded herself into four component parts. Samuel Hanson, Emily Climer, Tyler Rai & Anna Rogovoy tune into discrete disruptions of posture and dissolve again in gentle encounters, evoking their choreographer’s inimitable style without apparent mimicry. Beginning with Samuel in a chair, a figure at rest and wrestling with minute evolutions, the work morphs as the dancers pass through idle animation states and multiplicities of growth and decay. Tyler Rai’s arrival hints towards a relational possibility, but instead the work hums with vibrational states instead of categorical quotidian intertwinings. Anna Rogovoy’s vocalizations hint at sweet springs, but it is Emily Climer who with blinking eyes and a pale countenance compels us to seep into the tender unrest. As Emily teeters and sways among the others, the dreamscape’s agility is about an endless becoming, a reality in flux where to go is to be going, but never to get there where two become four become zero become infinite and on and on. 

Kenta Nagai and Julian Barnett in “X (Two Strings)” Photo by Scott Shaw

Julian Barnett begins his X (Two Strings) with a simple, wry descent. Striking one low chord on his bass and slowly collapsing to the ground. Like Mina (and Kota) Julian engages butoh-ic practice as playground without preciousness. If there could be such a thing as an Asian American bromance dance I’d wish it were stereotypically this. Julian and composer (and dancer here) Kenta Nagai offer evocative and irreverent counterbalances, mining the residue of Japaneseness with ripe mudras and summa sumo stances. Each serves as the other’s intermediary daemon, mediating sonic spirits into physical realms. As they shadow one another through proximity or sound, katas and gibberish become reciprocal equalizers in a delightful exchange wherein both become something other than musician and dancer, actor and accompanist, friend and brother. 

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