Saturday, May 3, 2014

Striking sound: Dance meets percussion at Japan Society

Choreographer Luca Veggetti and musician Kuniko Kato
collaborated with dancer Megumi Nakamura
on a multimedia work inspired by the music and theatrical ideas of Iannis Xenakis.

Project IX--Pleiades, a work by Italian choreographer Luca Veggetti to percussion music of Iannis Xenakis, received its North American premiere last evening at Japan Society. A duet for percussionist Kuniko Kato and dancer Megumi Nakamura, it was first shown, last month, in Yokohama, Japan.

The duet, initiating in Xenakis's Pléïades (1978), announces itself in a flare of sound that drops away before returning in a bright progression of chimes like sonic droplets sprinkling around you. The almost-physical presence of music here is key.
Above: Kato (l) with Megumi Nakamura
in Project IX--Pleiades
Below: Kato in action
(photos by Julie Lemberger)

When the piece opens, we first see Kato's instruments before we see the performers. Various drums, a marimba, xylophone and more span the theater's wide stage along with a scrim suspended along a diagonal. When the women finally arrive onstage, Nakamura assists Kato in moving all of her instruments to one corner of the stage in a long, serene passage, ceremonial in tone. But it would be a mistake to think that the dance begins only when every instrument is carefully situated. In a real way, the women have been dancing all along and now continue to do so.

Nakamura, recipient of numerous awards for interpreting modern and contemporary dance masters, brings attentiveness to Veggetti's ultimately cautious, if visceral, dissonance. Kato, though, commands attention, whether it be with her videotaped image multiplied and stretched across the scrim or her flesh-and-blood performance on the array of instruments--big, big, powerful moves into the surrounding space that throw off rhythmic slashes and shockwaves. She is solar.

All artists involved in this project are here to serve the music, but it is Kato who brings it. Last evening, the audience's fondness for her was completely clear and completely justified.

With sound design by Yuji Sagae, lighting design by Takeaki Iwashina and videography by Hiroyoshi Takishima

For tickets to the final performance of Project IX--Pleiades this evening at 7:30pm, click here.

For information on Japan Society programs, click here.

Japan Society
333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), Manhattan

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