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Friday, Dec. 21, 2007

The art of youth


An Aladdin's Cave of small, distinctive retail spaces, the Laforet building at a main crossroads in trendy Harajuku has been a shopping magnet for young people since it opened in 1978. This year, for instance, more than 3,000 lined up outside awaiting the start of its New Year sale. And whereas its Shibuya retail rival Parco also boasts a theater and a cinema, Laforet Harajku has the acclaimed multipurpose art space called Laforet Museum on the sixth floor.

News photo
Muneteru Ujino brings his homemade instruments to Harajuku Performance Plus.

This weekend, for "Harajuku Performance Plus," curator and composer Keisuke Sakurai is bringing together 10 cutting-edge young performers from several fields for three stagings only of "groovy performing arts in Japan," an omnibus line-up showcasing contemporary dance, street dance, music and comedy.

Among the many leading artists in their fields at Laforet's first festival of its sort, audiences will be able to marvel at the contemporary dance of internationally active Masako Komoto; the music of global-gigging multi-instrumentalist Muneteru Ujino, whose "sound sculptures" include music he performs on motorbike parts; and in-vogue Yoshimitsu Ichikura, whose "Dravideo" will feature him drumming in synchronization with video images in a show that went down brilliantly on tour in Europe this year and that he performed at the Venice Biennale.

Meanwhile, "Harajuku Performance Plus" should be outstanding for some of its crossover collaborations. These will include one of Japan's most popular contemporary dance companies, Nibroll, presenting — as Off Nibroll — a special fusion stage of dance and film images, while Swedish performing group KEL will collaborate with leading Japanese choreographer Chie Ito.

In addition, the Contact Gonzo group will stage vicious hand-to-hand fight performances, and 12-year-old hip-hop dancer Strong Machine No. 2 will show off her great talent.

What will be the Next Big Thing in Japanese pop culture after animation, J-pop and the Tokyo fashion collections? Well, check out this groovy event over the Christmas weekend and you might just find out the answer.

Harajuku Performance Plus runs Dec. 22-23 at Laforet Museum in Laforet Harajuku, a 5-minute walk from JR Harajuku Station. For more details, call Laforet Harajuku at (03) 3475-0411 or visit www.laforet.ne.jp.



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