As the Japanese people are infatuated by all things American, the Americans are fascinated by all things Japanese. And rightfully so. OQ (okyu is the phonetic reading of the Japanese word for “palace”) made for a fantastic evening of peaceful bliss. Meditative and sonically compelling, the show was a blending of Eastern and Western cultures. The dance styles were modern and ancient, spastic and still, mesmerizing and peaceful. A certain stillness entered the audience that allowed for a deep and spiritual connection at Mandeville Hall.
The piece was in two acts and they were a sort of Taoist Yang and Yin. The first half of the show was spastic and full of electric energy. Five dancers filled the stage with exciting and very different styles. Each of the three men and two women had their own distinct takes on a similar tone, though Mina Nishimura stole the show. You’ve probably seen her on Saturday Night Live in her fantastic performance with Sia. I was so excited by that performance! She was so amazing to watch onstage that she could have carried the piece alone. She trained under Kota Yamakazi and together the two of them were stunning to watch. She has also been involved in projects based on the works of two of my favorite artists of all time, Harry Partch and Haruki Murakami.
They carried the power of Japan and the butoh influences that gave the piece a potent life force. The somewhat disturbing body movements were mediated by the amazing score of Masahiro Sugaya and the set design of SO-IL. The second act of the show was completely driven by the piano sounds. They were fantastic and reminiscent of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports. The movements were so slow that it was really like a theater piece as much as a dance show. It felt like a break in time for a deep and thoughtful reorganization of life’s foundational paradigms. Perfect art.
Once again, we have the formidable ArtPower organization to thank for bringing this amazing and soulful presentation. I wish more people were able to understand the depth and breadth that ArtPower is bringing to San Diego. San Diego needs to get in their cars and head up to La Jolla to support their ground breaking shows. Nowhere in this town do we have such a complex and rich offering of beauty.