BWW REVIEW: To See Teshigawara/KARAS' Sleeping Water, Perchance to Dream
North American premiere of Saburo Teshigawara's Sleeping Water was brought to New York City by the Lincoln Center Festival, performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall July 13-15, 2017. I was fortunate to attend the opening night performance. Teshigawara, whose background includes the study of plastic arts and classic ballet, did the choreography, set design, lighting design, and costume design for this work. This is understandable as lighting, sets, and costumes were all integral parts of the performance. understated flowing black costumes contributed to the flow, as did the music and the lighting, varieties of spot light formations. One particularly interesting lighting choice was floor level spotlights, lit from the sides of the stage in lines of light across the stage. As the dancers moved through them, there was a strobe effect. The backdrop was black. There were, at certain moments, objects that descended, catching the lights, but never hitting the floor. 1985, Teshigawara formed KARAS. Evidently, Sleeping Water is entirely his creation.
Music choices guided the movement, as well as the audience, through the choreography's feeling/meaning. Music credits: Anteroom by Theo Blackmann; Partita No. 2 in D minor by J.S. Bach, performed by Sayaka Shoji; Suite in A major, BuxWV 243 III (Sarabande) by Dietrich Buxtehude; Ball Scene by Josef Hellmesberger, performed by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Fur Alina by Arvo Part; Concerto Grosso No. 1 II Tocata) by Alfred Schnittke; Hinaaja (Tugboat) by Pan Sonic; "Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones; from Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Fugue 8 in D-sharp minor and Prelude 24 in B minor by J.S. Bach The choreography is marvelously musical, every note choreographed, dancers becoming one with the music, whether a classical violin solo, a Rolling Stone's classic song, or the sounds of thunder rumbling.
Teshigawara's poem, Sleeping Water, is printed in the program:
Sinking deep down into sleep from the calm surface
The body floats in the air like a boat
Deep respiration fills the sky
Flying freely towards dawn
A momentary farewell from death
Sleep is floating, an enigmatic twisted reality
The entrance to another world
Thus our piece becomes reality and not a dream
A consummately beautiful reality
The curtain opens on a dark stage with strategically placed spotlights. The first dancer on the stage was the 71-year-old Teshigawara, dancing with fluidity of arms and spirit emanating from every pore. His movements change repeatedly from flowing to sharp. When he leaves the stage, a change in lighting reveals six dancers, including the notable guest artist, Aurelie Dupont, lying on the stage, responding to the thunderous sound effects and the music. Although Dupont has a couple of solos, she appears with the other six dancers as one of the company, rather than as the big star. The style of the piece is that the dancers represent a whole, even when dancing solo. Because all were part of or moved by the sea, the music and sound effects, the lighting, the atmosphere, they were not actually relating to each other, but being moved by the intention of the whole. It seemed that the vast, dark sea moved the parts (the participants/dancers).
All of the dancers were excellent, focused performers. Of particular interest was Rihoko Sato, who joined KARAS in 1996 and, as well as performing in all group works, she also works as assistant to Teshigawara. Her solos were particularly poignant, as her focus was entirely committed.
Although their Lincoln Center Festival performances have finished, Dupont, in her capacity as Artistic Director of The Paris Opera Ballet, has invited Teshigawara to create a new ballet for the Paris Opera later this year. I would love to see that, as well as other creations he has and will make internationally. Teshigawara is an important talent of contemporary dance theater.
Photo Credit: Michel Blasco.