The Japan Society’s Contemporary Dance Festival, an event that sampled recent works from several East Asian countries, was skipped last year, under the assumption that surely by 2022, things will return to normal. often. Oh good.
Even as the latest surge and virus variant has forced more cancellations and postponements in New York theaters, the screening at the society’s Midtown home is still going ahead this weekend, almost as scheduled, with four North American premieres, audience numbers were reduced and the mask rule was particularly strict (requires N95 or KN95). The ups and downs of the pandemic forced a group from Japan to make a video appearance, which helped make the show not only a welcome window into distant shots, but another demonstration of the difference between Live dancing and filming.
The previous show went great. Be part of Taiwanese choreographer Wei-Chia Su’s The FreeSteps project, exceptionally agile dancer NiNi (also known as Yu-Ting Fang) performed on a stage island in the lobby of the Japan Society. Twisting to the edge of the distortion, she spiraled voluptuously. Pausing occasionally to stretch into the sky before sliding back into her floating groove, she looked like someone was constantly grabbing her and getting out. This is dance as a moving sculpture, the most prized three-dimensional study of man.
In contrast, the first choice in the theater is nonexistent – and not just because it’s shown on the screen. “A Hum San Sui” by Kentaro Kujirai and Barabbas Okuyama, Japanese choreographers and performers, didn’t seem to be popular with the film. The close-up shots enhance the eating quality of these Butoh performers; framing exacerbated the aimlessness of their circling around each other. At least in an endearing coda, the artists mocked themselves.
The “addition” by Korean duo Minsun Choi and Jinan Kang, partly talks about the gap between a recorded performance and a live performance. Throughout the film, video director Taegyeong Kim holds the camera on stage, shooting dance scenes, sometimes connecting her device to a laptop attached to two flat screens. But the footage of Choi and Kang on those screens was not a live recording. Their movements on the screen are different from what the dancers are doing on stage: a slyly exaggerated reminder that every live performance is unique.
The effects are minimal, as is the choreography. The two dancers, accompanied by rhythmic clicks and clicks, vibrated like parts of a machine built to perform a wobbly dance, swinging their hips like silk. This deadpan feat has been periodically altered by the addition of props (balls, duct tape) and Kang’s humiliation (ankle pants). But this apparent randomness is sometimes synchronized with different video: the timing is just dramatic (and funny), like here, live.
For mind-bending paradoxes, it’s hard to beat quantum physics, the theme of the final choice, “Touchdown,” a solo by Taiwanese mathematician Hao Cheng. The projection text explains some of physicist Niels Bohr’s epochal discoveries about the fixed orbits of electrons, and then Cheng takes the stage and collapses.
The rest of the work suggests but never explicitly spells out a personal reminder of that downfall – something about how our path in life seems to be in order but isn’t. sure.
However, when Cheng drew concentric circles on the floor with chalk and whirled around in a pastel version of the action painting, he expressed a lot of frustration with the uncertainty. How can something be waves and particles?, he asked. How can we find gain in loss?
Or, to prolong the feeling of our current predicament, how long will this pandemic last?
We can’t tell, but we can notice moments like the final image in “Touchdown” – floating lights that show how electrons “glow as they fall”. And we can remember not to belittle visits from abroad.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/16/arts/dance/japan-society-dance-festival-review.html Review: Enjoy Live Dance at Japan Society