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Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre Presents Two World Premieres at The Ailey Citigroup Theater
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Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre Presents Two World Premieres at The Ailey Citigroup Theater

- Onstage with the Dancers


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Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre
(KHDT Website)
Presents:
Two World Premieres

At
The Ailey Citigroup Theater
(Ailey Studios Web Page)

Kazuko Hirabayashi, Artistic Director

Dancers: Sarah Stackhouse, Kathryn Alter,
Michael Leon Thomas, Daniel Madoff, Stephen Behan,
David Claps, Kyle Gerry, Jessica Higgins, John Hinrichs,
Katherine MacLellan, Stacy Martorana, Mayu Oguri,
Rio Tasia Smith, Meggi Sweeney, Thomas Varvaro

Lighting: Stacy-Jo Marine
Costumes: Elena Comendador
Production Supervisor: Robert Swinston
General Manager: Heidi Skirbe

Press: AudreyRossPub@aol.com

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 9, 2010


No, No…Yes, Yes…NY (2010): Choreography by Kazuko Hirabayashi, Music by Michael Gordon, Costumes by Kazuko Hirabayashi, Performed by the Company. This wildly hyperkinetic piece is danced by six members of the Company, with costumes of shorts and multi-color tops. The performers leap and catapult, falling, shaking, and hopping, and the staccato motion is brimming with youthful energy.


A Pebble in the Field (2000): Choreography by Kazuko Hirabayashi, Music by Simon & Garfunkel/Jimi Hendrix, Performed by Kathryn Alter. There’s a decidedly anti-war message in this work, timely and poignant. Synthesized, retro, patriotic music plays, as ropes fall from the rafters. Kathryn Alter, in army fatigues, takes center stage, and transports the viewer with impassioned grace.


Chrysanthemum and the Sword (2010): Choreography by Kazuko Hirabayashi, Music by Phillip Glass, Costumes by Elena Comendador, Performed by the Company. Four male dancers with headbands dance to the Phillip Glass score, while one lone dancer grips the audience with a long, curved sword. The dance was originally performed by Mishima, and it includes a ritual sword dance to death, with a lone female dancer with flowers, a very captivating character in this disturbing dance drama. This work is slow, edgy, and deeply depressive. The eerie percussiveness of the score adds to the unsettling sequences, that seem never resolved. The audience seemed quite fidgety during this work.


Haiku (2009)(Koto Uta Basho’s 5 Haiku): Choreography by Kazuko Hirabayashi, Music by Joji Yuasa, Costumes by Elena Comendador, Performed by Sarah Stackhouse. Ms. Stackhouse is a longtime dancer, having been on stage in the 1950’s with the Limon Company. The stage is set very simply with a birdhouse and three rocks, and Ms. Stackhouse dances in swirling circular fashion, as the Japanese string score plays hauntingly in the background. This was quite an absorbing work, with the audience seemingly enthralled.


The Spring (2009): Choreography by Kazuko Hirabayashi, Music by Igor Stravinsky, Costumes by Elena Comendador, Performed by the Company. I was invited to this event by Kathryn MacLellan, a dancer also with the Graham II ensemble. She was in the cast of tonight’s performance of The Spring, one of the best interpretations of Igor Stravinsky’s score that I’ve ever seen. This dance involves a ritual sacrifice of a bear, a funeral ritual, with mystical meaning. The ceremony is celebrated by indigenous inhabitants of Hokkaido, an island off Japan. The black bear is seen as fur and meat for the Ainu (inhabitants), so the bear sacrifice sends back the spirit of the bear to provide the people meat and fur.

Jessica Higgins, who portrays the bear, is wound in woven brown string, a tightly binding costume that evokes fur and primal motion. She was incredibly pliant and pulsating in her dance, leaping, crawling, pouncing, as she was even thrown about like an inanimate object. Michael Leon Thomas was powerful in his athletic role. Ms. MacLellan, among the ensemble, was eloquent, with high leg lifts and striking presence. The Company was astounding in this work, and it occurred to me that The Spring could be expanded to a much larger piece, with additional dramatic themes and choreographic segments. Kudos to Kazuko Hirabayashi and her Company for this gripping dance.



Jessica Higgins
in Kazuko Hirabayashi's
"The Spring"
Courtesy of Yi-Chun Wu.



Jessica Higgins, Michael Leon Thomas
in Kazuko Hirabayashi's
"The Spring"
Courtesy of Yi-Chun Wu.




For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net