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Preview: Tyler Tyler/Yasuko Yokoshi

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Photo: Alexndra Corazza


Contemporary dance/Kabuki artist Yasuko Yokoshi has excellent timing. She comes to Chicago fast on the white-painted heels of revered Butoh company Sankai Juku; fortunate dance audiences have had their attentions freshly honed to the restrained and minute. Not to compare the two performances; Yokoshi is very much a Japanese American—Hiroshima born, in New York since 1981—with the attendant consciousness of displacement, complications of identity and the mutability of culture. Yokoshi, classically trained with postmodern predilections, collaborates with Masumi Seyama, a revered master of Kabuki Su-Odori—a less ostentatious, makeup-free form of Kabuki. Their last collaboration, an interpretation of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” won Yokoshi a Bessie.

This newest work, entitled “Tyler Tyler,” uses a twelfth-century Japanese tale of warring clans to explore ideas of impermanence and power. The six-person cast—half of them American, half of them Japanese, and one American singer-songwriter playing Cat Power and Carpenters tunes, engage in a referential shuffle of cultural imagery quiet and powerful: the American man holding a fan, moving ever so slowly with elegance and grace still has a pistol on his hip. (Sharon Hoyer)

At the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan, (312)369-8330. October 28-30, 8pm. $26-30.

One Response to “Preview: Tyler Tyler/Yasuko Yokoshi”

  1. T.S Says:

    Undoubtedly the idea is interesting – the exploration of the links between two cultures, Japan and the USA, which hold a rich history of conflict and confrontation, and are in so many ways complementary, yet paradoxal.
    However I found the result to be far from fulfilling; too purposefully “deep”, this is a performance that almost begs to be recognized as “post-modern”, and so unprecedented in its intellectual substance, so much so that it seems to miss these aspects entirely.
    It seemed to me like the performance was presented in a series of messily connected scenes, and was overall lacking in the subtlety crucial to Japanese culture and art. The links between the juxtaposed cultures were crude, and too obvious, there was a startling lack of nuances and layers of meaning, which I found created a rather shallow performance.
    Though at some points there were glimpses of something a bit more touching, slightly more subtle, for example the entrance of a woman who was noticeably an expert in her field of Kabuki, or the interpretation of traditional Japanese music using modern instruments, these glimpses of subtlety were quickly smothered, replaced rather with another very obvious image that one has the feeling of having seen countless of times before.

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