Dance with Japan: Figure


Every time I think that I am on the verge of indifference in this era of over-information, something comes along to send my mind into orgiastic reverie. A lone figure stands on an empty, dark stage, her back to the audience. In the silence, she walks towards the back of the stage, as if into a void. Images appear on the back wall, an interference, disrupted patterns appearing and disappearing, projected on the space and the body of the dancer as one. Sound emerges that defies definition, except as the sound of what is happening. She moves and the light moves; a duet of waves, particles, molecules and mystery.

Shiori Tada/Photo: Yoichi Tsukada, courtesy of PR
Shiori Tada/Photo: Yoichi Tsukada, courtesy of PR


Figure, a dance created by Shiori Tada with audio and visual artist Junichi Akagawa is breath-taking, beautiful, and exquisitely executed. Art and science merge, each informing the other, expanding the realm of possibility; a paradigm of what artistic collaboration and inter-disciplinary dialogue may yield. The short work won an award at the 2014 Yokohama Dance Collection, and was performed at Suzanne Dellal as part of the Dance with Japan program.

Performed by Shiori Tada, the dancer’s movements are fluid, undulating, curving, and the light that moves on and around her is at times like visual noise, at times a geometric design, and always an entity with its own choreography and presence. Shiori Tada is a sensual presence in this strange space, emanating her own heat and emotion. At times she seems like a traveler, trapped in another dimension, a parallel universe, a digital frame of reference from which there is no escape.

It is an intense experience, one in which we are manipulated by that which we depend on most: that which we can see. Light has the power to make the dancer appear or disappear; engaging and challenging our perceptions. The body is fragmented, bisected by bands of light, dissolving into hundreds of luminescent pieces; and yet she resists, moves, a living form emerging from the dark abyss. There are moments when it feels as though the whole stage is vibrating, and with it, we too are shaken. Yet in this matrix of shifting light and distorted sounds, one finds something that is tender yet enduring, the blood flowing in the veins, the beat of the heart that powers the human machine.