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Chia Tachibana ‘Suketatsuchini’, FLYdance & Zoo Indigo ‘Lounge Living’

by Katie Phillips



15 January 04 -- The Place, London

There is a common interrogation about where contemporary dance is heading; taking into account where it has come from and what has already been done - where is it going and what makes contemporary dance new and interesting? It is often hard to find enjoyable work amidst the choreographer’s aspiration to ‘challenge’ the audience. So what makes a work refreshing? What is it that we have yet to discover and experience? The utilisation of Indian classical dance and the emerging influences of Butoh indicate how Western audiences are being drawn towards the diverse cultures, traditions and languages of the Far East and the Orient for performance material.

In this respect, a simple but a slightly mysterious Orientalism makes for intriguing viewing in Chia Tachibana's Suketatsuchini. A sense of nature pervades the piece from the onset: beginning with the whispers of a seething sea, the dancers appear like the sounds – a montage of shapes sculpted in space, their shadows and pointed limbs, reminiscent of oriental shadow puppets.

If the current screen trend of regurgitation of the classics is anything to go by, the piece smacks of early American Modernism, and may seem, perhaps slightly out of date in an Isadora Duncan-esque kind of way. True, it is a ‘pure dance’ piece with simple rhythms, safe technique, efficient on the beat prances, split leaps and the occasional high kick – and out of date concepts such as a slightly crude ‘baring of the soul’ do spring to mind. But, if viewed in the style of 'a remake of a classic', but with a contemporary twist, then that makes it new, refreshing and enjoyable in my opinion.

There are some subtle, deftly poignant moments amidst hands-over-face style melodrama. I’m not quite sure about the delicate prancing right on the beat of the music, even if the energy of the steps combined with the Oriental yodelling was kind of uplifting… Overall, however, the music is as clear and concise as the dancing and it is an unusual piece - ornate, evocative and intriguing.

FLYdance & Zoo Indigo 'Lounge Living'

20 January 04 -- The Place, London

Beginning with a stalker’s view of four women through their paradoxically shuttered yet exposed existence, “Lounge Living” is a theatrical satire exploring the archetypal roles of four elemental women. The piece is cute, sassy and gender-political performed in a great set with the colour, character quirks and brashness of a Ben Elton novel.

The voice over, in a David Bellamy style nature documentary details the physiological, psychological and banal exploits of four women with the neurotic detail of an obsessive as obsessed as the subject itself. He informs us of the percentage of verbal and gestural communication used by women and comments on the perplexing realms of the distortion of the self – chemicals in the hair and on the face and wonderbras. Despite a brief mention, the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ isn’t really an issue – rather all the women are encapsulated, demonstrated, explored and celebrated. It is witty and fast paced with an emphasis on theatricality rather than dance.

Comic stereotype is skirted around but not succumbed to – we see a girl on the phone twiddling the cord between her fingers; told of a latte that saves the day; and there is a token hippy with a tea cloth on her head. However, chocolate and coffee are merely skimmed over so that characters are kept, at least in their relationship with one another, fairly neutral. Perhaps this is to appease the feminists who will not be classified into the typecast characteristics of fire, air, water and earth, or to keep from shunning male viewers. Perhaps with such quirky, obvious characters, more melodrama and flounce would be acceptable in order to add to the satire and irony, which are the most entertaining elements of the piece.

Katie Phillips' article was written for Resolution! Review on the Place's website.  For more, click here:  Resolution! Review

Edited by Jeff.

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