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  •  REVIEW: MINA NISHIMURA

    L-R: Christopher Williams, Connor Voss, Mina Nishimura, Sarah Lifson in Mina Nishimura
    Photo by Ian Douglas
    L-R: Christopher Williams, Connor Voss, Mina Nishimura, Sarah Lifson

    Strange Vegetables

    Mini Nishimura brings imaginary things to Danspace

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    The challenge Mina Nishimura gives a viewer is to set your adult aside and let your child watch. Either inner being will find things to enjoy, but the child may see more.

      
    MINA NISHIMURA
    Choreography by: Mina Nishimura.
    Dancers: Sarah Lifson, Mina Nishimura, Connor Voss, Christopher Williams.
    Music by: Stephen Cooper.
    Costumes by: Kota Yamazaki.
    Lighting design by: Kathy Kaufmann.
     SCHEDULE
    Danspace Project
    October 29-31, 2015

    To open Celery of Everything, the first half of an evening show, Nishimura walks out like a friendly presenter — "hi, how are you?" — and half the audience answer her. Each of the other 3 performers arrive similarly, but Christopher Williams takes it a step further and asks us to imagine 3 shapes onstage, as if the budget ran out before they could become a reality. He is so engaging and descriptive that the result is probably better than having the real objects onstage. "Real" would be debatable, anyway, for a beanbag slugsnail, a giant donut and a spiral-bodied dinosaur. His title could be "imagination conductor", and the others could be "imagineers", as he gestures the shapes through space and the others interact with the space accordingly.

    Layers of odd suffuse imaginary and real (kitty t-shirts?). The movement vocabulary is rarely traceable and ever-shifting. Performers work well together but seem to do so unconsciously more than intentionally. An unsettling blend of childlike and absurd keep us always off-balance. The effect is like watching a whimsical group of well behaved children — and trying to learn from them. And much of this is set to Pachelbel's Canon in D Major as performed by Johann Sebastian Bach.

    Mina Nishimura in Mina Nishimura  
    Photo by Ian Douglas  
    Mina Nishimura
      
    If classifying one of Nishimura's group pieces is tricky, pinning down her solos is impossible. And that's a good thing. Sit back and go with the flow to watch Princess Cabbage. To view differently is to flirt with disturbing. But if you insist on serious, this could be challenging material. Is the manic, mini-mouse voice humorous or deeply agitated? Is the big monster voice a dad or a devil? Are extreme torso and body isolations playing with movement, or the physical look of a disturbed or possessed person?

    Music and sound design by Stephen Cooper work unobtrusively to knit things, as do costumes by Kota Yamazaki and lighting by Kathy Kaufmann. Line drawings around the danspace mirror and echo the aesthetic onstage; they are either childlike or disturbing (the same thing?). Japanese characters on the drawings add to the mystery and give some reference to Nishimura's choreographic sensibility as well.

    NOVEMBER 3, 2015
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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