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Luminous: by experimental choreographer Saburo Teshigawara

Sadler's Wells, 11 – 12 October 2003

"Luminous is a choreographic masterpiece danced with virtuosity and refinement, litheness and lyricism. Saburo Teshigawara, who created it for his company Karas in 2001, is also lead dancer and, with his long–time collaborator Kei Miyaka, responsible for music, costume and scene design. His choreography is thrillingly liquid and – through both movement and stillness – boldly explores the sculptural qualities of the human body. Trained in classical ballet as well as the plastic arts, Teshigawaraís [sic] dancing seamlessly integrates the formal and amorphous, controlled and wild, slow and frenzied dimensions of his choreography.

In part 1, the dancers streak in and out of patches of light which at first seem to entrap them, but from which they eventually escape with spellbindingly mercurial gestures. Light is explored with glass mirrors, luminous constumes, light–box silhouettes and masterful use of spotlighting. And darkness – which in Teshigawaraís fertile choreographic imagination seems so much more than merely the absence of light – is embodied in the remarkable Stuart Jackson, a dancer blind from birth whose contact with the space around him feels almost physical. When he spreads his hands, or tries to touch the air with outstretched arms, or twists and turns in a space that he seems to have perfectly measured out, he brings alive a world – almost a world–view – experienced through touch and movement alone.

After the interval, the atmosphere changes completely. Strange figures, phosphorescently lit, some minus heads or hands or entire upper torsos, caper around elusively. At one point a cloak flies over the stage. A nun–like figure is suspended mid–air. Two walls enclose a glowing green figure, and open and shut like a huge book. And then all this eerie activity gives way to a meditative solo by Teshigawara, in white on a bare stage, who alternates floating movement with sudden sharp slicing curves and fast spilling turns. He is eventually joined by a black–clad Jackson. They circle around each other, in a dialogue that seems incomprehensible to the on–looker and yet vital in every sense of the word.

The only irritation in Luminous is the portentous and sometimes vapid poetry read by Evroy Deer, which gets in the way of the dancing and dilutes rather than adds to its ëmeaningí [sic]. Apart from that, however, nothing is sensationalist or kitschy. Above all nothing is arbitrary: everything feels essential in the indefinable way of great art."

(Simon May, 2003, Online Review London)

Fig.1 Dominik Mentzos, 'Saburo Teshigawara'.




20012003 • absence of light • aestheticsballetblind • blind performer • choreographic imaginationchoreographyclassical balletcostumedancedarknessdesign formalismDominik Mentzoseerie • everything feels essential • evocative performance • Evroy Deer • figures in spacefloating • floating movement • gestureglassglowinggraphic representation • green light • interdisciplinary • interdisciplinary project • Karas (dance company) • Kei Miyaka • lightlight-box • litheness • Londonluminousluminous costume • lyricism • masterpiecemirrormovement • nothing is arbitrary • nun • phosphorescence • plastic arts • portentous • poses plastiquesSaburo Teshigawara • Sadlers Wells • scene design • sculptural qualities of the human body • sharp slicing curves • silhouettespace • spilling turns • spotlight • stage • Stuart Jackson • suspended mid-air • theatretorso • vapid poetry • virtuosity • visual dramavisual literacy


Simon Perkins
04 JUNE 2006

Growing up with the legacy of the Jewish Holocaust: audio stories of Jewish children

The Jewish Museum in Berlin makes good use of audiovisual technologies to engage its visitors. One of these involves the presentation of audio stories of Jewish children growing up with the legacy of the Jewish Holocaust. The stories are accessed through individual sets of headphones that are spread around a large (AstroTurf–like covered) green room. Each of the children's stories has an accompanying light–box that displays personal information about their subject and a seating area for visitors to sit in while they listen to the stories. The arrangement is both visually dramatic through the function of the light–boxes as visual accents and calming through the general ambience of the exhibition space. The use and arrangement of audiovisual technologies in this way helps to promote visitor engagement with both the individual exhibition displays and more generally with the exhibition experience.



AstroTurf • audio storiesaudiovisualBerlinexhibitionGermanyJewJewish Holocaust • Jewish Museum Berlin • light-boxmuseumoral historiesSimon Perkins

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