DaBY Performing Arts Selection 2021
The opening of DaBY, with the participation of three dancers (Hana Sakai, Benei Nakamura, and Yoko Ando) from the perspective of “dance genealogy,” was a remarkable project as a way to connect the issue of “inheritance” of dance to the concrete creation of dance. This project was noteworthy as a way to connect the issue of “inheritance” of dance with the creation of a specific work. (Note: Yoko Ando’s work was not seen.)
Hana Sakai’s “The Dying Swan,” a masterpiece of modern ballet choreographed by M. Fokin, and Benei Nakamura’s “BLACK BIRD,” choreographed by Ily Kylian, one of the leading figures in modern ballet, were both presented as step boards in this exciting project. Although the first performance of the piece was already held at the Aichi Arts Center, the casual and flexible space of DaBY made it possible to have after-talks, casual discussions, and intensive support for the artists during the creative period from the first performance to the present.
Hana Sakai, “The Dying Swan”/”The Dying Swan: The True Story of Its Death
No one ever wondered why the “Dying Swan” had to die. Toshiki Okada, a co-creator of the ballet, asked a simple question, “There must be a reason for death as a fact,” as ballet is an art form that beautifully crystallizes even death into an eternal form. In the first half, Hana Sakai danced a revised version of the modern ballet masterpiece “The Dying Swan” choreographed by Michel Fokin. The choreography was particularly impressive, utilizing the suppleness of the upper body as if the movements of the arms were wrapped around it.
After one dance, Sakai returns to the real time with the bare face of a dancer, stretching and flexing her body. The microphone was attached, and the second half of the performance, a new interpretation of “The Dying Swan: The Truth of Its Death,” directed and choreographed by playwright Toshiki Okada, began. Accompanying him throughout the entire piece was cellist Udai Shike. Sakai begins to talk to Shikake about his physical anomalies, and his frank question as to why a legendary ballet with a history of over 100 years is danced the way it is, overlaps with the image of a bird dancing while suffering from physical anomalies, and eventually becomes the reality of a bird suffering from vomiting plastic fragments that have accumulated in its sandbags. The audience is left with the impression that this is an introspective situation. The audience must have found this situation inwardly hilarious, but at the same time must have felt that Okada’s problematical reinterpretation of the “dying swan” as environmental destruction was a very real problem.
Benefit Nakamura, solo from “BLACK ROOM”/”BLACKBIRD
When the dimly lit stage is illuminated to suggest a slightly square space, it becomes a stiflingly enclosed space that surrounds Nakamura. Nakamura faces the anxiety of dancing solo and the terrible loneliness of groping his way through the darkness. Groping for the only clue, Nakamura repeatedly utters self-reflective words, maintaining an extremely delicate balance of life through his speech. Relying on the words that her wandering fingers in the darkness pull in, Nakamura is finally stuck in the depths of the labyrinth. This is the fundamental question she asks about her own existence, and the first half of “BLACK ROOM” ends with only a sharp trace of a mournful cry in the darkness.
In the second half, she danced a part of her solo from “BLACKBIRD,” which Killian had choreographed for Nakamura. She, who had been struggling alone and alone, appeared resolute like a bird with wings. What I felt throughout the flow from “BLACK ROOM” to “BLACKBIRD” was that the dance Nakamura inherited from her teacher Kylian was something she herself discovered at the end of her own suffering, and that it was embodied through her body and fluttered in the air. In this short work of less than 30 minutes, Nakamura showed how sincere the act of inheritance is, and I was struck by the tranquility and clarity of her performance.
Ryu Suzuki, “When will we ever learn?”
A work by Ryu Suzuki (director and choreographer). Dramaturg Aoto Niwa. The square dance space shown on the stage, its outer and inner territories are clearly divided. Furthermore, the dancer standing on the outside is always staring at what is being danced inside this square area. Here, it is as if watching is controlling the other dancer. In other words, the two dancers are dancing together as if they are being rushed or provocatively assembled under the watchful eye. Through the intervention of the intense gaze, the dominant and the dominated are presented, gradually switching their positions.
Eventually, one notices the exact repetition of the same movement phrases. This makes it seem as if the interior of one man is a development, carried by several dancers. In other words, what one man is staring at is not the other but himself, his own image reflected on the outside, and like a ruthless iron law that can only be faced hostilely, their forces collide with each other, accelerating a kind of fighting spirit, which is suddenly interrupted in the next moment. The next moment, however, it is suddenly interrupted. It repeats itself in a harsh phrase of reminiscence, as if a momentary scene that has been burned into one’s mind is recalled one after another, without a trace of context. It was a thrilling dance space made possible only with dancers Ryu Suzuki, Ken Nakagawa, Rinako Iida, and Mariko Kakizaki.