A piece in pieces

Posted in Uncategorized | June 29, 2009 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment

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Tyler Tyler performers watching their American counterparts

Tyler Tyler is being built in pieces. For the first couple of months Yasuko worked on traditional repertory in Tokyo at the school of Masumi Seyama with Naoki Asaji, Kuniya Sawamura and Kayo Seyama– the three Japanese performers who will be part of the work.  Then for six months, she worked with dancers Kayvon Pourazar and Julie Alexander here in New York, teaching them traditional repertory and developing contemporary structures and choreography as well.  Now that she has amassed over an hour of material and several ideas about the way that the piece may grow and change next, Yasuko returned to Tokyo to continue to rehearse the Japanese cast under Masumi Seyama’s tutelage.

The negotiation between the two cultures and the two modes of creating and rehearsing is a delicate one, made more complex by the fact that the piece is largely being built separately– at the moment, Yasuko is the only person who holds both parts in her mind and body as she travels back and forth. At a recent rehearsal, Yasuko showed video of the American dancers to the Japanese cast for the first time.  Seeing their counterparts redoubled the commitment of the Kabuki-style performers to the project and spawned the planning of a joint residency at MANCC to bring the two casts together for the first time.

But, putting all the parts together in the same space isn’t going to make the process any less complex: the MANCC residency will be fascinating, challenging and valuable for its effect on the form of the work and also its process. What happens when you juxtapose postmodern choreography and traditional Kabuki Su-odori dance? What happens when the working styles of two cultures are asked to co-exist in one studio?  As Yasuko has said “what of culture is transferable?”

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