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    2018-2019 reviews:


    The Mirror

    Playing dress up

    Identity is elusive in "The Mirror," by Osaka based Keiko Fujii Dance Company.


    Although Keiko Fujii plays a "plain innocuous woman" she actually glows in her opening pose, as she sits on the stage floor in a lotus position wearing a yellow and orange silk robe. The evening-length The Mirror is given only one performance that is the choreographer/dancer's tenth US engagement. The interesting premise is — as stated in the program — a woman loses her mirror image except when dressing up or holding a gun.

    Choreography by: Keiko Fujii.
    Kaye Theater
    Hunter College, 68th Street (corner of Lexington Avenue)
    Sept. 17, 2005

    Fujii's company of twelve women and one man traverse the stage in trench coats with briefcases and pocketbooks in an imaginative dance that is repeated several times and gives a sense of the day's passage in a busy city. The repetition only strengthens the effect, as does the dawn half-light shed on these dancing pedestrians rushing to work. Lighting by Kathy Kaufman and Harumi Haranaka of Osaka Kyoritz Inc. accentuates the mood throughout. Scenes of workaday drudgery and fun alternate with vision scenes that are hyper-real or nightmarish. In this manner The Mirror parallels the quotidian, with its silver lining of dreams and imagined drama.

    The dance is divided into thirteen scenes. The second, "Bleak World," evinces post-war trauma as seen in two recent Japan Society shows. The photographs of Shomeii Tomatsu and Little Boy; the later expresses lingering wounds in art made a half a century later. In an evocative and memorable scene, Fujii's dozen or so dancers writhe after falling to the floor, their hands and feet extend in cramped contorted tension. It's been said we can never know another culture, but barriers are crossed when The Mirror reflects a national identity.

    The Mirror  
    The woman's lost and recomposed mirror image is a theme that returns numerous times with wonderful stagecraft; the trick mirror is revisited as she looks at herself in different guises. The woman's drama is danced by Fujii and Company over 90 minutes. After a fast paced beginning — she wakes up in her bedroom and operates in her office managerial job — the narrative rambles in less engaging solos. At the climax of Fujii's spiraling descent, she is bottomed out in front of a three-panel mirror. What should create emotional effect doesn't. The mirror reflects glaring lights that don't invite empathy.

      Scenes of workaday drudgery and fun alternate with the hyper-real...
    The Mirror's many costume changes designed by Fujii — long coats, trench coats, red tunics over white pants, and lab coats — suggestively excite the imagination allowing us to fill in the blanks. But some decisions are elusive. Why does one woman wear white slippers and boxer shorts while everyone else is in black jazz shoes, pants and white button down shirts?

    ...a great coup that wins over the audience with mock triumph.  

    Fujii's dancers are faultless and her patterns of movement for the troupe are engaging, to electronic and instrumental music by Masuro Guto and Osake Koritz Inc. Jazzy trios of dancers in white collars and ties, and a dance in unitards with a fragmenting pattern best show off the excellent talent. The obligatory fancy dress party or club dance showcase looks co-opted from a musical.

    A final dance with the full company playing at taking bows, yet continuing to dance is a great coup that wins over the audience with mock triumph. Without saying so, they have entertained and created moments of beauty. The Osaka based and Honolulu trained Fujii garnered wild cheers and applause from fans. A unique fusion and musicality can be remembered with pleasure in the whirlwind mime and modern dance-drama.

    SEPTEMBER 27, 2005

    Reader comments on The Mirror:

  • [no subject]   from Mariana Bekerman, Oct 6, 2005

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