The body's solar or celiac 'plexus', below the chest and in front of the diaphragm, is a network of radiating nerve fibers that resembles a web. Dancers often are taught to imagine it as a well from which their strength is drawn upward. 

Kaori Ito in <i>Plexus</i> © Aglae Bory
Kaori Ito in Plexus
© Aglae Bory

This performance is an extraordinary leap into the experimental. It draws its inspiration from architecture, cinema, puppetry and dance, and has been designated, 'optical theatre', but I do not think that quite describes it. It was not visual in the way a painter's canvas is.  To me, as it moved from left to right on different planes, it was more akin to frames in movie- editing, and it suggested reading or some mental faculty in encryption.

With a stage set of five thousand cords, this ' forest of ropes' constituted the volume, as well as the length and width, and hung from the ceiling to the floor from a rectangular construction. The construction offered Kaori Ito particular potential, that of altered by the interventions of light . For example, a diagonal light shading half of a rectangle, produces two triangles. 

Kaori Ito's training has dictated the shape of her outer body, but also, it has designated her inner world. The dancer's internal self is not necessarily a narrative one; it could, rather, be compared to an architectural structure of planes, lines, intersections, the shape of space around her body (or negative space) and the constant shifting of weight. It consists of her heartbeat, her breathing and the rhythms set up by her co-ordination.

The opening moment was droll, as well as dramatic, with Ito's inner- dancer trying to escape from her external body. Accompanied by the sound of a heart beat, there is a visceral eruption of inner Self.  I was reminded of Ben Jonson's play The Poetaster (1601) when the character, Crispinus, vomits up his bombastic vocabulary. 

Aurelien Bory, who studied physics and architectural acoustics at the University of Strasbourg, is right to see the parallel between his studies and the dancer's sensitivities: hers is an existence of rectangles, triangles, motion studies, acoustical references and directional forces. It is graphic as a line, visual like a Matisse cutout. It even experiences the weather. One of my favourite moments near the beginning occurred when the shimmering light on the ropes  gave the effect of plucking the strings of a harp. From this plucking emerged a sound as if rain were falling. Ito seemed to take refuge from wetness.

Identifiable action begs the question of the difference between everyday movement, and dance. Art forms, like poetry, often condense meaning by careful selection. Mime and dance are metaphors, and Japanese art shares this approach.

In her performance, Ito was suspended asymmetrically, about- to -fall. She appeared able to levitate or disappear into indeterminable depths suggested by the lighting. Intersecting planes met at right angles and gave deep perspective to the space. The dancer once comically appeared to zip up some space. She leaned against light – Though it has no mass; she walked on an invisible tightrope; she climbed invisible stairs, the effort of it reflected in the sound. Towards the end, she descended from the ceiling, hovering like a smaller version of the 'Angel of the North'.

In the end, her Self escapes from the audience. It disappears from view. I did not like the flamboyant ending (literally flaming,red light).  I do not think that dance rises  from the ashes like a Phoenix.  Nor does it burn eternally. To me, Dance is ephemeral and transient. It is a wosh through time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manage 

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