Above: dancer Yuki Ishiguro, photographed by Kokyat.
Wednesday January 30, 2013 - These words from the Yoo & Dancers press release piqued my curiosity:
“Glass Ceiling” turns the audience upside-down and inside out. The dancers defy the audience’s understanding of the traditional physics of dance by performing as if various walls and surfaces in the space were in fact the floor...by shifting traditional notions of orientation for a dance performance, “Glass Ceiling” opens the viewer’s mind to different perspectives, new ways to think of their relationship to the space. New aspects of movement and physicality emerge when the focus is rotated and the audience is no longer the dancers’ focal point. When the dancers are presenting towards imaginary audiences, real viewers are given the opportunity to question their own role in the performance environment."
Then I noticed that my friend Yuki Ishiguro was listed among the participating dancers. I decided to attend the performance: I seldom have an opportunity to add new dance groups to my calendar but by chance this evening was open and so I walked over to the East Side on a cool, damp night to see what Yoo & Dancers had to offer.
The work, at least the part of it that I saw ("Without A Net") is truly inventive and was expertly performed by Yuki and four fellow-dancers. The far wall of the space has become the floor for the dancers and they balance, stagger and climb across the actual studio floor with disorienting commitment. To live piano music - a collage of familiar and unknown works - real dance elements are woven into the choreography - a tango, a ballet pas de deux - but they are danced inside-out and sideways, so to speak.
The audience were clearly intrigued by the piece, and of the dancers Yuki seemed most at home in this off-kilter world: often balancing for long periods on one hand, he scrambled about the space with the grace of an earthbound Spiderman. Meanwhile his gestures and expressions were genuinely amusing. Since I'm unfamiliar with these dancers I can't say who the girls were (the Company's other male dancer, Sean Hatch, gave an engaging performance) but they all had the spirit of the work well within their grasp.
The space is perhaps not ideal to present this floor-oriented piece since only viewers in the front row have a clear sightline. Those seated further back had to stand or move about. Nevertheless I truly enjoyed it.
After the intermission, the seating had been re-configured and I was fortunate to still be placed in the front row - and very eager to see the rest of the performance. But as the lights went down, four very small children came and sat on the floor at my feet. I hastily grabbed my coat and left.