BWW Review: WEAVER WOMAN Entrances at Scotiabank Dance Centre
For fear of falling into the Eurocentric trap of appreciating East Asian literature through an Anglophone lens, what must be said first is that Korean author O Ch?ngh?i is an incomparable visionary of the heart.
Admitting a relatively provincial reading, though with all due respect, and in the spirit of utmost regard, she is the Virginia Woolf of Korea. An anti-establishment strength of feminism, she provokes her audience to reimagine womanhood as an empowerment of individualism, freedom, and humanity.
Her short story, Chingny?, also known as Weaver Woman, almost begins with an uncanny similarity to the way in which Woolf's life tragically ended.Weaver Woman opens with the drawing power of a river, which becomes central to the fate of the female protagonist of the story.
Actress Maki Yi tells Chingny?, speaking in verbatim passages from the world-renowned translation by Miseli Jeon. Costume and set design by Ines Ortner is a wonderwork of draping fabrics and breathable cloth. Yi is first adorned in the heavy dress of the woman worker, only to shed her outer garments for the dress befitting her feminine beauty, alone, for herself.
Masterful Japanese watercolor paintings by Etsu Essence Inoue projected onto the stage background and into the glowing eyes of the audience, who enjoyed the tantalizing exploration of a foreign culture that resonates deeply with the people and culture of Vancouver. Chingny? is an old story. Originally, it was told in China, though is known throughout Japan as a famous folktale, and is also popular in Korea.
For this reason, the artistic director of TomoeArts, Colleen Lanki, producedWeaver Woman. TomoeArts is a dance-theatre company that supports traditional and contemporary Japanese arts, whose proponents have spent a considerable number of years studying traditional forms of Japanese dance.
Finally, the music of Weaver Woman proved impeccable, as the very pulse and lifeblood of the performance. Composer, singer, and erhu (Chinese fiddle) player, Lan Tung, grasped the spirit of the story through her evocative voice. She sang folkloric melodies through impeccable sound techniques on one of the most beautiful, traditional bowed instruments of the world.
Fellow musicians, cellist Peggy Lee, and orchestral percussionist Jonathan Bernard created the atmosphere of gravity, in which the audience could sink and be swept away with the current of the entrancing river that called forth the Weaver Woman.
Photo Credit: Alfonso Arnold