The design of Saburo Teshigawara’s stage in Miroku creates an overwhelming sense of PLACE. It seems obvious to write, but this dance BELONGS in this PLACE. It is not a haphazard environment. It is a highly detailed, clean place from which we see Teshigawara’s intensely intricate articulations of muscle and bone – and it does seem that he can manipulate his bones.
What a wonder when for a moment, as I watch him dance, I am thinking of snow geese! I think of the long migrations snow geese make and I remember watching thousands of them, gathered in their eating grounds – a wetland suddenly swollen with graceful bird bodies – moving in a method to keep themselves alive. They are eating, in their life-long mating pairs, digging watercress and gulping water. Their movement is constant. And tenacious.
Saburo Teshigawara doesn’t need to tell us what or where this particular place on stage is. It is a place that holds what he gives us through movement and light. And it is through his light (Saburo Teshigawara designs his set, lights and costume) that I am brought to places OUTSIDE the McGuire stage. I remember an ocean. I remember Saburo Teshigawara floating in the tumbled upper layers of waves and I remember him down at the depths. Suddenly this PLACE was the ocean and it was also his mind. It was perhaps his soul. It was a place upon which Saburo Teshigawara imprinted himself so we could travel through fear – if fear was an emotion you happen to feel at any point in this dance – I write this because just as Sabura Teshigawara does not tell us what this place IS or what can and cannot happen in this place, he does not guide us to explicit reactions. He screams, but do we connect to the scream or to the fact that he is safe, here in the place of his own design? The drive to create the picture of screaming evident. The drive to escape, not.
Escape: at one point a door opened in this place. Except there was no actual door. This is what I mean: we were in a place where our minds were a most evident player to this dance. The light created a prison cell block, a serene blue heaven, a nightmare, the tent you were in as a child with friends retelling ghost stories – or, it created none of those places and my particular mind brought me and me alone. THIS, I think, was the simplest beauty of this dance.
Sabura Teshigawara is alone in this place. There is no breach of traditional solo dance structure. There is no invitation into his world. He creates scenes that starkly burn into our eyes. I can see him, now, lit brightly against the wall in the briefest moment before another black-out. I can see the blue light bearing down on him. I can see his open mouth just behind the naked bulb. I can see his shirt, suddenly fluorescent, and I remember wondering if that is what a fishing lure looks like as it trails along in search of an unsuspecting fish mouth.
My eyes did grow tired of trying to catch these moments – there were times when the lights, while not in strobe, were close – and of course, the bare bulb inches from his face or penis – calling me to look but not letting me actually see. It became physically difficult to watch and I appreciate how my physicality was suddenly assumed and swallowed into his show.
I’ve mentioned many places this dance brought me to and I suppose part of this comes from the structure of Miroku. It was built as segments. There was no bleed, no transition, just light that called for my mind to switch from where it had grown accustomed, again and again. I grew tired here too, but isn’t that amazing? That I am pushed in this dance, to move beyond where I am happy, to move constantly, to access my past and my present simultaneously, to see Sabura Teshigawara up there, dancing in his place completely alone and to feel, as I am sitting in a very full audience, also completely alone – my mind the only thing to rely on. As this earth changes, we will have to dance like Sabura Teshigawara. And this brings me to think of the future. This is exciting to me – that I witnessed a dance that brings me to think about the future and to place myself somewhere out there, years from now. When I think back, then, what will I recall?
And now I am going to read my program and to do a little research into Sabura Teshigawara/KARAS’s methods and thoughts. It is rare I ever get to go to show without background information or previous exposure to the artists’ work. So, in honor of this gift, I saved my research until right now. I’m going to start with listening to the Talk Dance podcasts on Miroku that Justin Jones and Philip Bither did: http://channel.walkerart.org/series/talk-dance/