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    2017-2018 reviews:


    L to R: Masanori Hoshika, Ryoji Sasamoto, Michel Kouakou, Tomohiko Tsujimoto and Bill Manka in Picnic...for men in Kota Yamazaki/<BR>Fluid hug-hug
    Photo by Quinn Batson
    L to R: Masanori Hoshika, Ryoji Sasamoto, Michel Kouakou, Tomohiko Tsujimoto and Bill Manka in "Picnic...for men"

    Deep in a Beautiful Space

    Kota Yamazaki's Fluid hug-hug world of ghosts and dancing creatures connects


    Ghosts, human-looking creatures and people speaking in tongues populate the choreographed world of Kota Yamazaki's latest show with his "Fluid hug-hug" company. From still moments with shreds of tension and anticipation in a trio of women to flatout moments of supersonic movement in a piece for five men, and Yamazaki, this evening covered some big country. Yamazaki comes from Japan via Africa and NY club dancing, and from a successful career in Japan, where he helped kick Japanese modern dance up to much higher levels. All of this is apparent in the eclectically strange but fluidly professional presentation he stages.

    Choreography by: Kota Yamazaki.
    Dancers: Janet Charleston, Jean Freebury, Masanori Hoshika, Michel Kouakou, Bill Manka, Mina Nishimura, Ryoji Sasamoto, Tomohiko Tsuijimoto and Kota Yamazaki.
    Music by: Masahiro Sugaya.
    Production design by: Michiyo Sato.
    Art direction by: Michiyo Sato.
    Set design by: et in terra pax.
    Costumes by: Michiyo Sato.
    Lighting design by: Amanda K. Ringger.
    92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival Ailey Theater February 13-17, 2008

    "April-May-June" is a quiet piece, lushly weird, with silent exclamations, catatonic slowness and strangely connected and unconnected "ghosts" who eventually seem to reach some understanding. Mina Nishimura, Jean Freebury and Janet Charleston each possess enough to keep us watching through moments of stillness or silent evolution. Really dark, moody lighting by Amanda K. Ringger also adds to the feeling of "three female ghosts inhabiting a big, old house for hundreds of years," Yamazaki's description of the piece. There is a strong butoh feeling to this piece that may be hard for some to digest, but the movement quality is soft and sharp and intriguing by itself.

    Mina Nishimura reaches to Jean Freebury in Kota Yamazaki/<BR>Fluid hug-hug
    Photo by Quinn Batson
    Mina Nishimura reaches to Jean Freebury

    "Picnic. . . for men" is an intergalactic collection of guys who alternately seem intensely human and transported from some strange Star Trek planet as they chatter and buzz and laugh at each other, sometimes in sync and sometimes trying to connect and sometimes just showing off. Ryoji Sasamoto and Tomohiko Tsujimoto open the piece with a casually skillful duet of languid relaxation while a squatting Masanori Hoshika watches from afar. A lanky white guy in knit cap and sunglasses, Bill Manka, enters doing his odd version of Saturday night fever. The cool observer then becomes the red-hot dancer, with Hoshika unleashing his small, powerful body in a schooling lesson of break dance. The final member of this quintet, Michel Kouakou, enters straight from Africa and demonstrates his own skills, and the party is ready to start.

      Kota Yamazaki in Kota Yamazaki/<BR>Fluid hug-hug
      Kota Yamazaki
    "Picnic. . . for men" is a wonderful journey on some enormous, shuddering spaceship whose passengers are in no hurry to arrive. They enjoy the trip and each other, with moments of friction and tension but an overall feeling of cooperation. Transporting music by Masahiro Sugaya and subtle, slowly shifting light by Amanda K. Ringger really bring the ship home.

    "Picnic. . . for men" is a restaging of the piece "Picnic" that Yamazaki choreographed in 1997 and premiered in Tokyo, this time for five main male dancers, with Yamazaki in a vaguely tragic cameo as an uninvited or deinvited guest. "Picnic" was originally inspired by a four-week residency in Chelsea in 1996, where he was fascinated by different races and cultures dancing together and seeming to come together for a moment in dance clubs to form a free and fleeting community, dispersing at the end of the night without knowing each other's names. All of this comes across in the piece, especially at the end when the five spent dancers gather on a small picnic tablecloth to relax at the end of the night.

    FEBRUARY 19, 2008

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    Fluid hug-hug"