Dance is all about making the most of each moment. Dance lovers should make the most of the moments in this year’s Novel Hall Dance series, because the theater itself is now under threat from Chinatrust Commercial Bank’s (中國信託商業銀行) plan to sell the complex that houses both its headquarters and the theater and move to Nangang District. So the 13th year of the series could be the last in Novel’s jewel box of a performance space.
Fittingly, albeit unknowingly, programmers booked the two men who have meant the most to the series to be the year’s guests: Japanese choreographer and artist Saburo Teshigawara and Briton Akram Khan.
Teshigawara was last seen in June 2007 with his largely solo show Pages in Bones — there are two women in it, but they played very minor roles. His fourth time around he has a larger contingent as KARAS, the company he co-founded in 1985 with Kei Miyata, will perform Mirror and Music (鏡╳樂), created in 2009.
Any discussion of Teshigawara, who turns 60 this year, usually includes the notes that he is considered Japan’s most important choreographer and that he has become, over the decades, a cult figure.
He came to modern dance in a very unusual way — after studying plastic arts, sculpture, classical ballet (which he did not start until age 20) and mime. He has said that a “lack of freedom” in dance in the 1970s and early 1980s led him to form his own company. The troupe quickly caught on in Europe after its 1986 debut in France and starting in the mid-1990s, he has also created works for major European companies, including the Frankfurt Ballet, the Nederlands Dans Theatre 1 and the Paris Opera Ballet.
However, his interests have long ranged further than dance. He has created art installations, written several books, made films and videos and directed an opera (Turandot in Edinburgh in 1999). This all-encompassing creative energy means that for most of KARAS’ works, he not only choreographs, but designs the set, the lighting and the costumes as well — not to mention dances.
Whether solo projects or group pieces, his performances are rarely linear or tell a story. They are dance-art installations that seek to move past traditional dance sensibilities, where space and time are intertwined and sculptural movement and lighting is used to create an atmosphere as well as illuminate the stage.
In Mirror and Music, Teshigawara contemplates the tangible and intangible nature of music (both Baroque-era and industrial electronic) and reflections of life caught in mirrors. The vocabulary ranges from swooping balletic movements to what appear to be muscle spasms and tics.
Teshigawara has obviously tinkered a bit with the piece since its Tokyo premiere in 2010, as only seven people, including Teshigawara, are named in the Taipei cast list, while there were nine for Tokyo and shows in London in two years ago had eight dancers.
Two warnings about the show. The first is that the 7:30pm start time for the 75-minute piece will be strictly enforced; latecomers will not be admitted. The second is that the lighting includes a prolonged period of intense flashing lights. One reviewer in London complained that the strobe effect had migraine sufferers dashing for the exits.
Khan will perform his acclaimed 2011 solo work Desh from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22. There is a special offer for people who would like to see both Mirror and Music and Desh. Purchase a ticket for this weekend’s KARAS performances and, if you buy a ticket for Khan’s show before May 24, you will get a 35 percent discount. Twenty percent off will be offered between May 25 and May 31.