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Dance forms mix in pair of shows | The Japan Times

 


Dance forms mix in pair of shows

Like many art forms in our rapidly shrinking world, dance is

constantly experimenting with variants of the cross-cultural,

extending and blendingboundaries into innovative re-imaginings

of genre. Choreographers such asAkram Khan, an English dancer

of Bangladeshi descent, have found great success by combining

ballet or modern dance with more traditional forms of movement

— in Khan’s case, classical kathak training — to forge exciting,

contemporary works that nevertheless honor the past.

Two upcoming productions in the Tokyo area reflect

this trend in dance.

 

Okinawan ballet artist and choreographer Ryoki Midorima brings

his blendof traditional Ryukyu dance and classical ballet to

Shibuya on Oct. 20 with “TOKOIRIYA: RYOKI to AI vol. 4.”

Ryukyu dance was a part of Midorima’supbringing from a young

age.

 

 

“I don’t even remember when I was first interested because it was

sofamiliar and close to my early childhood,” Midorima explains.

“For example,Okinawan wedding ceremonies open with traditional

Ryukyu dance and there is a lot of Ryukyu dance entertainment at

other ceremonies, festivals and parties. When I was a child, it was

common for me to perform ballet with groups of Ryukyu dancers

at the same events.”

 

With his background, it’s natural for Midorima to incorporate

different genres into his choreography. In addition to Ryukyu

dance, his newest work also melds traditional Japanese

shrine-maiden movements, his staging evokes an ancient cave,

and his dancers’ costumes borrow their patterns from

17th-century Ryukyu art.

 

“Arts and cultures always exist on the foundation of our

predecessors,” he says. “It’s like taking over their dreams,

spirits and thoughts to create new performance using their

pieces and styles of dance. It is essential for all artists.”

 

For Ohad Naharin, artistic director of the acclaimed

Batsheva Dance Company, based in Israel, dance provided

an opportunity to create new forms of communication across

all cultures. Famed for his movement language “gaga,”

Naharin’s imaginative body vocabulary emphasizes delicacy,

imagination and the human need to explore individual limits 

within improvisational movements. It has made Naharin an

international force in dance, attracting a wide range of devotees

from beginners to professionals. He kicks off his nationwide tour

at the Saitama Arts Theater on Oct. 28 and 29 with his 2015

production, “Last Work.” The company is also offering a

“Gaga Workshop” on Oct. 27 and 29, led by Batsheva dancers,

aimed at allowing dancers and nondancers alike to communicate

freely in movement.

 

As tension waxes and wanes between globalism and nationalism,

between world citizen and patriot, culture provides an opportunity

to meld the many possibilities of a broader view of the world.

 

“It’s very natural,” Midorima says. “I strive to encounter various

genres of dance, taking their characteristics into my work to

create new styles of movement.”

 

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