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Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008


Top performances at the triennale

Special to The Japan Times

Ventriloquism, giant rabbits, dancing on broken glass and a whole lot of kissing — and that was just the opening weekend of the Yokohama Triennale.

Throbbing Gristle art
Disorienting: Cerith Wyn Evans' collaboration with Throbbing Gristle MARK THOMPSON PHOTO

The lineup for this year's event raised some eyebrows when it was first announced — leaning, as it does, quite heavily on performance art, theater and dance rather than more static art forms. As such, some of the best moments promise to be the most fleeting. While you'll be pleased to hear that the kissing will continue for the duration of the triennale (in Tino Sehgal's choreographed piece, "Kiss"), turn up at the right moment and you might catch all other sorts of one-off happenings.

Keep an eye out for butoh maestro Min Tanaka and German artist Ulla von Brandenburg , both of whom are threatening to pop up unannounced over the course of the festival for impromptu performances (though presumably not together).

Among the scheduled events, the "idance 80's" series at Unga Park sounds promising, showcasing the talents of six groups and individual performers born during the 1980s. It kicks off on Sept. 27 with a solo performance by Kitamari , leader of the Kyoto-based dance group Kikikikikiki (6 p.m. start). Next month sees turns by on-tai (sound-body) performer Yoko Honaga and female trio Pink , on Oct. 11 and 18 respectively (both 5:30 p.m. start), before contemporary dancer Yukina Sakai , pop theatrical troupe faifai and local luminaries Momonga Complex round things off on Nov. 8, 15 and 29 (all 5 p.m. start).

After touring around half the world, French choreographer Jero^me Bel and classical Thai dancer Pichet Klunchun's collaboration "Pichet Klunchun and myself" finally arrives in Japan on Nov. 1 and 2. This staged conversation and demonstration, in which the two men engage in amusing and sometimes enlightening banter while probing the nature of their respective arts, is worth it for Klunchun's exquisite dancing alone. At Red Brick Warehouse No. 1 (10 a.m. start).

Bring some earplugs for the Experimental Sound Program nights at Red Brick Warehouse No. 1, featuring Japanese noise legend Merzbow and Robin Fox on Sept. 20, followed by the flesh-searing sounds of Pop (Zbigniew Karkowski and Peter Rehberg) and a trio of Oren Ambarchi, Jim O'Rourke and Steven O'Malley on Sept. 21 (7 p.m. start Sat., 7:30 p.m. start Sun.; each ¥2,500 in advance, ¥3,000 at the door). If that sounds like a bit too much effort try Takehisa Kosugi instead. The violinist, composer, Fluxus member and founder of out-there '70s rockers Taj Mahal Travellers will be performing at the same venue on Sept. 23 (7 p.m. start; ¥1,500 in advance, ¥2,000 on the door).

Other delights lurk beyond the hazy boundaries of the triennale itself. From Oct. 3 to 5, Argentine playwright Mariano Pensotti directs a Yokohama edition of his play "La Marea," a series of nine overlapping stories that will be performed in stores and on the streets of Yoshida-machi, near Kannai Station. The work, which has been taken to locations as varied as Buenos Aries, Berlin and Dublin, dispenses with the niceties of a clear start and finish, let alone a reception, and members of the public are free to come and go as they please. Turn up at 7 p.m. or thereabouts. See kyunasaka.jp/lamarea/ for details.

Finally, the Kazuo Ohno Festival 2008 , in honor of the 101-year-old butoh legend, will be kicking out the jams at various BankART outposts and a few other venues between Sept. 28 and Oct. 25. The free Gala Night on Oct. 10 looks to be a real corker. Held on a floating stage and the banks of the Ooka River, near Sakuragicho Station, it will feature contemporary Thai performers Makhampom Theater Group , the puppet theater of Brazil's Caixa de Imagens and renowned Japanese dancers Yoshito Ohno, Kota Yamazaki and Mitsuyo Uesugi (5:30 p.m. start).

Other arts this week

'Nobuko Watabiki'


'Masaki Ogihara'


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