Tuesday, February 15, 2011

'Iki Shi Tai' - a dance review

On the evening of 13 Feb I watched 'Iki Shi Tai' at Korzo Theater, choreographed and interpreted by Shintaro Hirahara, Shintaro Oue, and Masahiro Yanagimoto - three charming Japanese men who have been dancing for years in the European scene.


The whole piece was inspired by breath, and it starts with Hirahara speaking in Japanese at the beginning. I didn't understand a thing, but at some points he narrated a dialogue between a man and a woman, and it's interesting how body language speaks much more, because I knew somehow that it was funny.

He is sitting on the floor on his knees and rotates his upper body; he takes a breath which helps his back to arch and move forward, and releasing it makes his back curve and move backwards. It was not until two-thirds of the way into the piece that Yanagimoto spoke about how the body moves according to the breath, while the two other dancers moved to his words.

There were some inspirations from athletic events like javelin-throwing and shotput, which were interspersed with flirtations with Japanese fans of various sizes. Every move and scene seemed to have a bubbling layer of comedy underneath the seriousness, although sometimes it was an obvious comedy.

Men acting feminine is unfortunately somehow always funny (who hasn't laughed at 'Men in Tutus'?), and Hirahara and Oue were very good at acting feminine, moving like geishas performing a tea ceremony, leaping like uncontrollable ballerinas, and making exaggerated sharp glances like gymnasts.

They speak while dancing, and sometimes it feels like I'm watching a rehearsal instead, as I can see the process of dance creation. They also laugh, and I want to laugh along with them. They have perfect timing, making just a small gesture or expression in moments of physical and auditory silence, for maximum comic effect.


All three men move with striking strength and endurance, and seem to have a remarkable memory for the intricate contact improvisation variations. The duo and trio contact improvisation is interpreted flawlessly, though they did not hesitate to show the force and fatigue of some positions through groans and grunts. It is refreshing to hear and see the effort and emotion behind the movements, normal physiological reactions that a lot of dance forms aim to eliminate.


In the final minutes, plastic bags fall from the gallery and are swept into gentle hurricane by four fan blowers in each corner. All three are swept around like plastic bags, and for a moment it suddenly feels too serious for these three delightfully-dressed men in red, yellow and blue.

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