By Lisa Lanzi
Choreographer, dancer and music creator KENTARO!! (with two exclamation marks) leads his company of expert dancers who are premiering Twilight Suddenly in Adelaide with support from the Japan Foundation. This company melds hip hop with contemporary and jazz dance and any other element that seems reasonable in the pursuit of delivering a work, including spoken word and some superb lighting states.
The intensity of Twilight Suddenly was turned up to 11 and the idiosyncratic, gesture-led choreography was passionate and powerful. To see a group of highly trained and disciplined dancers exuding the zeitgeist of another culture as well as pushing technical and genre boundaries is truly exciting. Less successful (but only because of the accented English) were the spoken word sections as it was difficult to understand parts of the text, despite the performer’s abilities and dedication to the task. But the energy of the dancers was extraordinary and to perform the piece, at sixty minutes length, must feel like a marathon. All the dancers possessed that enviable quality of effortlessness so that complex sequences seem like anyone could perform them - not!
KENTARO!! is a trained hip hop dancer with a passion for dance and performance as a vehicle to express ideas, notions, emotions and more abstract themes… or… perhaps nothing at all. The group’s motto is "Even if there is no goal, just go through it". And so with Tokyo Electrock Stairs we have layers : dance for dance’s sake or dance as a message and through to dance as a human connection grounding us in our crazy existence. Some of the thematic abstractions lean toward the surreal or hyper-real where nonsensical elements are dropped in for shock or entertainment value or, for example, the quirky text has a stream of consciousness feel without much predictable logic.
As the ‘ingredients’ of the choreography the range and variety of movement was insane! There were sections which flowed and relied on the softer side of human motion and sections that responded seamlessly to the music cues and beats akin to popping and locking. Some of the scenes had a machine-like feel reminiscent of Luke Smiles’ dance style when he still performed with Australian Dance Theatre.
Another similarity to Smiles’ (now an accomplished sound designer) is the fact that KENTARO!! composes his own music and collages the soundscapes for his works. He gives the impression that he may be a kind of Renaissance man and he is certainly pushing artistic boundaries with the unique blend of dance his company are famous for.
Photos Supplied by Lisa Lanzi
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.