In “(glowing), ” Japanese American choreographer Kota Yamazaki finds harmony in contrast, uniting movements from very different traditions in one choreography of subtlety and celebration. Yamazaki’s New York-based company, Fluid hug-hug, is founded on principles of travel, exploration and the idea that people are naturally fluid and must be so to freely exchange across cultures. The global exchange that yielded “(glowing)” began with Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s 1933 essay “In Praise of Shadows,” which characterizes the aesthetics of the East and West as being of darkness and light, respectively. In Yamazaki’s vision, the shadows at play are ever shifting, yet always present and express every tone in the spectrum. His darkness: butoh, the slow-moving, understated form at the foundation of his approach. His light: the explosive energy of West African dance. Yamazaki worked with dancers from the U.S., Senegal and Ethiopia, bridging lexical gaps in a multiethnic dance vocabulary.
The atmosphere of “(glowing)” is dreamlike, and saturated. Six dancers are dressed primarily in black, white and grays. The piece opens with five dancers moving like ghosts across a stark stage, the only feature of which is soft light and occasional sounds of crunching, dripping or crackling. Their motions are like slow or swift brush strokes that linger on the memory, then fade. Kinetic modern phrases emerge from here fluidly, in unexpected moments of unison. A sixth dancer enters and explodes in a solo of pure energy, feet pounding, her rhythm generated internally, the only sound her breath. Later, the large, sweeping African dance phrases are slowed down in underwater movements reminiscent of Tai Chi. In a stunning duet, two dancers move haltingly like marionettes or Bunraku puppets, their faces like porcelain masks. Styles blend, emerge recognizably, then merge back into the surrealist landscape. A short epilogue ends the piece on a note of natural beauty and mystery. (Sharon Hoyer)
At the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 South Michigan, (312)369-8330. Thursday-Saturday, September 27-29 at 8pm. $26-$30.