Two performances in one about mourning
by Anna Hackieiwcz
It seems that we saw two related performances about „Mourning” on the stage. One played on piano by Margaret Leng Tang, the famous, avant-garde pianist, and the Japanese modern dancers, Eiko& Koma. This collaboration was initiated by the Japanese Social Istitution in New York.
„At our first meeting, we were working for three hours to find a connection between my music and the dancing,” said Margaret. As a result, we saw two separate dramas in one performance. On the one hand it was a dance of „moving pictures” played by Eiko and Koma. The artists move in their own style, rather than following any particular traditional japanese form. One question came to - whether they are dancing or not?
The dancers' movements remind us of human suffering and also that of animals. Eiko & Koma's performance was more theatrical than dance. They are both impressed by the Butoh dance style of Kazuo Ohno, however, I think they only take from Butoh the feeling of catharsis, which is in the dancers and afterwards in the audience.
The scenography and the dancers were creating a single metaphorical picture. We observe the slow unfolding of the visions which compose the story, but in a deconstructed composition of time. It negates the „jo-ha-kyo” time (beginning-middle-the end) rule in Japanese traditional dance. The artists presented in the middle of the performance a picture of primitiveness which perhaps whould be better at the beginnig. As Margaret Leng Tang said- I shouldn't care about the sequence of pictures, because the most important in this show is the universal vision of mourning.”
What is different than in traditional Japanese dance productions is that the music played a separate role in this performance. Mrs Leng Tang was playing her piano composition in her own time alongside the dancing. Her repertoire sounds like John Cage's music, including plucking the piano strings. It is a „...kind of music we once thought is impossible to dance with,” said Eiko and Koma, „but we are exploring with Margaret dancing a mourning and to feel closer to lives other than human lives”. In this performance this fascinating pianist was sitsfor extended periods in silence. Margaret was playing in her own time, as the dancers perform in their own way. The music accents didn't correspond with the visual scenes, unlike in traditional Japanese dance, where the unity of the two forms is key. Margaret made music accents according to her performing plan. It is a reason why one could say that one appreciates the music play than the „dance” play of this performance.
Music and dance play separate roles in „Mouring”. “It is a performance about hope,” said Margaret, “It is about universal vision of death, the story about passing the time, mourning world, but with hope to resurrection of this world”. The performance is a deconstruction of time, deconstruction of the traditional structures of Japanese dance and it is not dancing at all.
It was two dramas in one piece about mourning and fascinating to observe how these two separate forms influenced each other.
Last edited by Stuart Sweeney on Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:16 am, edited 3 times in total.