February 2007

CanAsian International Dance Festival
February 22 – 24, 2007 Harbourfront Toronto
The Audience & Diversity
by David Fujino
The CanAsian International Dance Festival did it again.

Over the course of three evenings, audiences were entertained and challenged and made to think.

What is dance? What is theatre? What is performance?

Yuko Kaseki 's solo piece, Tooboe — The Howl, was provocative on all fronts. At the four corners of her world, when it rains, it truly pours. Then it stops. In this serio-comic fusion of modern dance and Butoh stylings, Kaseki would continually mop up the rainy floor with her dress, then continually wring out her dress, as if to say life is an ongoing series of repetitive activities. For the most part silent, the dancer registered agony and delight through grasping fingers and a soundless howl. About two-thirds of the way through, she burst up from a horizontal floor position into a series of athletic body rolls. Later, as she lay still on the floor, a sound track of rumbling thunder and incessant rain played over her. And when a ray of light fell across the black stage, she walked towards it, as if it were a door that promised hope. There was Debussy piano music and the tick-tock of a clock.

Traditional kathak dance met the music of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan in Joanna de Souza's Khammaj Tarana. De Souza's formality and restraint infused this light-spirited dance. Her upper body was straight, her shoulder and hand movements, angular. Ankle bells shivered in and out of tempo and the driving sitar and the talkative tabla drums pressed on. Three times, the dancer delivered a tongue-twisting rhythmic count into the microphone. De Souza's dance was all about music and the dancer.

This reshaping of a traditional dance form was also realized in Soojung Kwon's dramatic and powerful solo piece, Muk. Kwon appeared in a black dress and carried a red sash. The three Korean traditional musicians — two strings and a drummer — were also dressed in black. As the red sash is draped over her right shoulder, swirled above her head, stepped on, and even covered over by the hem of her black dress, we see that the dancer has control over this red sash and therefore control over her own destiny. Kwon's character was dressed in black. She was clearly an alternative to the wistful Salpuri found in Korean traditional dance. Salpuri, I've read, dresses in white.

Choreographer/dancer Roger Sinha's Apricot Trees Exist was a greatly anticipated event. Driven by Sinha's voiceover narration of "ALPHABET", a poem by the Danish writer, Inger Christensen, Sinha's six grey-clad dancers moved in ever-changing combinations of threes, twos, singles, fives, and three men and three women groupings; but for all of their interactive modern dance movements (with the narrator intoning, 'Apricot trees exist' ... 'Ice ages exist'), it was difficult to feel connected to this piece. What began as an intriguing relationship between spoken text and movement became diffuse and felt somewhat over-extended. The final image was that of a spotlit man with a woman slung over his left shoulder. The image was nothing like the strong female in Soojung Kwon's Muk.

Interdependent human relationships were played out in a Minimalist style by Toronto-based Keiko Ninomiya and Butoh master, Kinya "ZULU" Tsuruyama, in Ki wo mite mori wo minai (You see the tree, you don't see the forest). This is a directly metaphorical work. A tall figure in a long black hooded robe stands still. First a pair of hands, then a third hand appears across the front of the robe. When the robe eventually opens up, it reveals an upright Tsuruyama. Then Keiko Ninomiya slowly appears from behind him, sprouting forth like a bud from his tree. As both dancers struggle to remove themselves from its dark folds, the black robe becomes a third character. The line between human independence and interdependence is shown to be highly ambiguous.

The grand finale — the acrobatic dancers from the Qi Shu Fang Peking Opera Company (New York) — was pure excitement. Their bright-coloured silk costumes and bold face make-up drew us in. And the high-powered agility with which they performed various scenes from The Monkey and the Princess Iron Fan kept us clapping. In a climactic battle scene, the sweet Iron Fan Princess deftly repelled the spears of the Monkey King, Tiger Spirit, and Lion Spirit. She made it look so easy. What a fun ending.
Premiere Dance Theatre – February 22 – 24, 2007

Khammaj Tarana
Choreographer & Dancer: Joanna de Souza
* World Premiere *
Musicians: Anwar Khurshid (sitar), Neel Punna, Anita Ktakkar, Satpal Singh (tabla)

Apricot Trees Exist
Choreographer: Roger Sinha
* Toronto Premiere *
Dancers: Tom Casey, Jean-Francois Déziel, Sophie Lavigne, Magdalena Nowecka, Badeen Pedawi, Gillian Seaward

Choreographer & Dancer: Soojung Kwon
* World Premiere *
Dancer: Soojung Kwon

––– Intermission –––

Ki wo mite Mori wo minai
(You see the tree, you don't see the forest)
* World Premiere *
Choreographers & Dancers: Keiko Ninomiya and Kinya "ZULU" Tsuruyama

The Monkey and the Princess Iron Fan
Dancers: Iron Fan Princess (Qi Shu Fang); Monkey King (Ding Meikul);
Tiger Spirit (Liu Chunnuaun); Lion Spirit (Ren Yingxin)
Choreographers & Dancers: Qi Shu Fang Peking Opera Company (New York)

~ ~ ~

Brigantine Room – February 23 & 24, 2007

"Tooboe — The Howl"
* Toronto Premiere *
Choreographers and Dancer: Yuko Kaseki and Marc Ates
Company: cokaseki (Berlin)

We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
David Fujino
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2007