Studio Architanz is a dance studio in Tokyo offering classes by internationally renowned teachers since 1996. Their first gala performance, Architanz 2011, showed critically acclaimed Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 choreographed by Uwe Scholz, and this is their second gala.

This gala also commemorates the farewell of Robert Tewsley, former principal at Royal Ballet and New York City Ballet, who has enjoyed a long international career. He has been guesting frequently in Japan, so Architanz offered this opportunity for him to bid farewell.

Tewsley chose two works for his departure. Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon, which he had danced many times in Japan and gained him his fame as a dramatic dance actor, and Marco Goecke’s Firebird, a work that he had never danced before, both with Hana Sakai, one of the most versatile ballerinas in Japan. Their Manon bedroom pas de deux showed the maturity of the two dancers – not too passionate nor flirty, but with much tenderness and intimacy. Tewsley’s partnering was gentle and smooth, with his longing feelings expressed in every slight movement. Sakai as Manon was playful and sensual, it was unlucky they did not have the opportunity to dance this ballet in full as they looked great together.

The other work, Goecke’s Firebird, was quite different from Manon. Utilizing the last wedding part of Stravinsky’s music, this ballet is strewn with Goecke’s twitchy movements, which make us imagine birds. Sakai and Tewsley stand together in the distance, their feet in sixth position and arms moving very rapidly with heads bent, and their backs sometimes towards the audience. Sakai’s eloquent torso, which is covered with a deep crimson bustier, shows trembling muscle movements. Together they convey the avant-garde atmosphere of this century-old music with much artistry and a sense of humor within its stylishness. It was thoughtful of Tewsley to introduce this very high-art style choreography to Japan at the end of his career, which I feel had more of a lasting impression on the audience than Manon.

Additionally, there were two new creations. Opus 131 by Alessio Silvestrin, set to String Quartet No.14 by Beethoven, is a symphonic ballet with 17 dancers – 2 male/female pairs plus 13 female dancers clad in minimal black tutus. Opus 131 has visible influences from Balanchine and William Forsythe, with whom Silvestrin had worked with at Ballet Frankfurt. It is a stylized piece with precise crystalline movements and structure, but without climax or thrilling moments, and way too long. However, all the dancers have excellent musicality and style. The silhouettes of ensemble dancers appearing behind a semi-transparent screen behind the main dancers made for a stunning image.

Hagoromo is a collaboration between contemporary dancer Kaiji Moriyama, Noh actor Reijiro Tsumura and gamelan musician Dewa Alit. During his stay in Bali, Indonesia, as a cultural ambassador, Moriyama was inspired to create this piece, based on the Japanese Hagoromo legend of a beautiful, heavenly lady whose clothes were hidden by a man who fell in love with her in an attempt to keep her on earth. Hagoromo also presents Ying and Yang: Moriyama was the heavenly sprit in white tulle while Tsumura was the black spirit on earth. Moriyama’s intoxicating and ethereal dancing, with the transcendent Butoh-influenced improvised movements were mesmerizing, while Tsumura’s earthy moves brought the work to another dimension, and gamelan added mystery and a sense of the divine. The moonlike figure and delicate white tulleshanging from the ceiling were effective in leading us into the exotic world of ancient gods and spirits...

Architanz will present another gala performance in March, with the Hong Kong Ballet performing works by Nacho Duato and selected dancers dancing Uwe Scholz’s The Second Symphony. They are aiming to create an innovative wave of dance in Tokyo.