THE WASHINGTON POST
LIGHT, PART 8 (SOLO WORK)
Kei Takei brings a section of Light, which is recognized as one of the most extraordinary works in concert dance history. Light was created in 1969 as a form of “dance diary” stemming from Takei’s arrival in the U.S. from Japan to train at Juilliard. Frustrated by how challenging and disparate her studies at Juilliard were from her dance upbringing, Takei went for a walk in Riverside Park to contemplate the abyss between two cultures. She identified a metaphor in the crunching leaves under her feet, as a way of breaking through frustrations and reconciling Western and Japanese dance. Thus, the first iteration of Light uses dry leaves; as Craig Bromberg writes, “symbolizing a rejection of modern dance’s stylized repertory as well as Takei’s own rejuvenation as a choreographer concerned with natural cycles of life.” The impulse to continue creating Light even today is not just due to an artistic preoccupation or oeuvre, but because the forces at play in it are universal principles such as light and energy, spirituality, and resilience in the face of lived adversities.
BAMBOO FOREST (COMPANY WORK)
In it is depicted the archetypal cycle of life and death utilizing the image of the blossoming of the bamboo flowers, which occurs only once every 60 or 120 years. The bloom is immediately followed by the death of that generation of bamboo. The inherent themes are the endless sacrifice of tribe, community, and individual, so that there can be continuity of future generations. The company dances in the stark surreal set designed by Renta Kochi and is performed to the music of emerging visionary Japanese composer Seiichiro Sou.
Supported by the Consulate General of New York and the Japan Foundation New York
KEI TAKEI (pronounced “Kay Takay”) is a native of Tokyo, Japan, Her youth was filled with dancing (at the Sakaki Bara School ), drama (with The Wakausa Theater Ensemble), drawing with her father, and growing vegetables with her mother. Later, she served a “traditional” apprenticeship with the creative dance master, Kenji Hinoki.
In 1967, on the recommendation of Anna Sokolow, Ms. Takei was given a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Juilliard School. In 1969, Ms. Takei began the creation of what has become an epic work, entitled LIGHT which at present consists of 45 distinct “Parts”. The individual parts of LIGHT range in character from solos to large group pieces involving 20 or more performers. Each “Part” is a separate and autonomous artistic entity, and yet belongs to the interconnected wholeness of LIGHT.
Ms. Takei has twice been named a fellow in Choreography by The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and has been the recipient of numerous choreographic grants and awards from The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, CAPS; The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Jerome Foundation, The Japan
Department of Cultural Affairs, The Japan Society for Cultural Affairs and others. In 2013 Ms. Takei was awarded the Eguchi Takaya Prize for excellence in choreography and was awarded by the Japanese Department of Cultural Affairs with the Monbu Kagaku Daijinsho, which is one of the highest statuses awarded to an artist of the non-traditional arts.
Her choreography has been commissioned by the Nederlands Dans Theater, The Kibbutz Dance Company, The Dance Theatre Company INBAL, Tanztheatre Reinhild Hoffman/ Schauspielhaus Bochum, Tanzprojekt München of West Germany, by Improvisations Unlimited of D.C., by Concert Dance Company of Boston, by The Modern Dance Company of Hong
Kong, and numerous others.
Ms. Takei has been guest faculty at universities and regularly teaches workshops on tour and in Japan, her home for the past 26 years. Ms. Takei has been on the faculty of The American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Naropa Institute, and has been Artist in Residence at many colleges, including Sarah Lawrence College, Manhattanville College, Radcliffe College, Emerson College, The University of California, Santa Cruz, The University of California, Los Angeles, The University of Maryland and The Yamanashi University of Liberal Arts (Japan).
Kei Takei's dance company MOVING EARTH ORIENT SPHERE is a company of up to 14 performers. Over many years, the company has presented hundreds of concerts, and has introduced Ms. Takei's choreography to audiences in 60 cities in the U.S.A. and in 17 countries around the world. A new work created by Kei Takei and set in the sculpture of Isamu Noguchi was performed by MOVING EARTH ORIENT SPHERE as part of Mr. Noguchi's "Imaginary Landscapes" exhibit at major museums across the United States. Kei Takei's MOVING EARTH ORIENT SPHERE received the Japanese Dance Critics Association Award for The Most Outstanding Performances of the Year 1979. In the same year the company was featured in the PBS series "Dance in America," directed by Merrill Brockway. In 1981, the company celebrated 11 years of LIGHT with a series of concerts in New York City, at The Theatre de la Ville in Paris, and in other major European cities, in which all of the then 15 Parts of LIGHT were performed in continuous 11 hour long performances. The 15th anniversary of the company was celebrated in New York with a series of 8 hour long performances of LIGHT, Parts 10-19 at La MaMa E.T.C. The highlight of the 1984-85 season was a 7 week tour of Japan, sponsored in part by The Japan-United States Friendship Commission. The company presented performances and taught workshops in many isolated parts of Japan as well as in the major cities and centers. The tour was conducted in way that the company members could have the greatest possible amount of exposure to Japanese life and culture, including opportunities to study with prominent masters of "Ikebana" (flower arrangement), "Sado" (tea ceremony) "Jigenryu", "Kudo", and "Karate" (martial arts employing the use of sword, bow and arrow, and empty hands respectively).
In 1995 MOVING EARTH ORIENT SPHERE was commissioned by John Killacky, Director, Walker Arts Centre in Minneapolis, USA to perform all the then existing 31 “Parts” of LIGHT in a marathon 24 hour long performance. 24 HOURS of LIGHT was performed in LA, Philadelphia, Berlin, Wales and Tokyo.
In 2011 the company started a new annual endeavor: TSUTSUURAURA (literally, “off the beaten track places”) PROJECT. Most of the performances in this project take place in small countryside areas, at temples and shrines, in the ocean and on beaches, in and beside rivers, on the sand dunes desert in Tottori Prefecture, and many other locations throughout Japan. Through this project dancers learned how to stand in nature and to dance not for an audience but in such a manner as to contribute something of one’s self to nature. These outdoors performances take place regardless of weather conditions - hard rain, typhoons, scorching heat etc. In September 2016, the company performed on the grounds of KUONJI Temple in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture which is the head temple of the Nichiren Sect of Buddhism and famous for its 287 steps of stone stairs known as "the steps of enlightenment”. The same year the company premiered LIGHT, Part 44 (The Bamboo Grove) at Miho no Matsubara on the seaside of the Pacific Ocean, which is very famous for its numerous pine trees that run along the seashore and is reputably the place where the folk legend angel Hagoromo came to earth."
DEBORAH JOWITT THE VILLAGE VOICE
JACK ANDERSON THE NEW YORK TIMES
ALAN M. KRIEGSMAN THE WASHINGTON POST
DEBORAH JOWITT THE VILLAGE VOICE
LUMBERYARD In the City is supported in part by awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation. LUMBERYARD In the City is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.