The stage is in darkness; a single spot reveals a lone samurai soldier committing hara-kiri. The image is so unexpected; I feel the scary sensation of being sucked inside a video-game. As he slumps forward, a politician comes in to view gesticulating wildly and ranting nonsensically from a balcony high above us.
As two men dance, four drummers are lit up playing a fierce and powerful rhythm. Adding to the scary surreal video-game dimension, they are also dressed in Samurai costume and their faces obliterated by darkness.
When I drew the dancers during rehearsals I saw beautiful emotionally charged fragments; to watch and draw these intricate rhythmic fragments joined, together with massive powerful and at times lyrical music, dynamic lighting and costumes the dance took on a whole new meaning. The dancers dance collectively, supportively in a group, but in contrast there are moments of such deep isolation and emotional pain of individuals that I feel overwhelming sadness and the breath catches in my throat. Certainly a sense of the futility of war comes across.
Suddenly on the balcony, above the action of the dancers, five foot-stamping, hair-swaying electric guitarists added to the shock effect by playing at full volume and I am catapulted back to the present day to a gig or music festival. The altered rhythm and atmosphere is reflected in the movement and mood of the dancers.
This jumping between time frames; the intense energy emanating from both the dancers and the musicians; the speedy switches of emotion and the fantastic geometric contrasts of light and shadow are all familiar territory to teenagers. I hope they will be in the audience at Sadler’s Wells in July to appreciate it.
At the premier at the close of the show there was a standing ovation, I cannot believe that it will anything less at any other venue.