Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Ailey Ascending; Photo by Serena SY Hsu
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Ailey Ascending; Photo by Serena SY Hsu

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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Katsu Katsu Katsu

Katsu Katsu Katsu

Company:
Vangeline Theater

Performance Date:
September 28, 2014

Freeform Review:

This was my first White Wave dance festival experience packed into a room with about 10 short dance pieces of completely different styles and companies. I wasn't sure if I was going to get in but I just barely made it in and by luck was seated front and center on the floor. I was really happy about this because I'm one of those weird people who loves sitting as close to the performers as possible. I love to be right inside of the action. This can work for or against you depending on if you love the show or are trying to escape.

"Katsu Katsu Katsu" came on at the very end of the show and was immediately different from everything else presented on the bill. Maki Shinagawa instantly brought with her an intensity that demanded your attention. Within moments of her performance beginning, I had forgotten that I just sat through nine other dance performances. I found it fascinating to watch a performer so deeply rooted in this world with an incredible strength, and so incredibly grounded, who yet clearly carried with her simultaneously, an awareness, almost a third eye open, channeling something deeper on stage and through that, allowed the audience to connect to her journey on a deep, soulful emotional level.

Building like an emotional wave under the surface, Maki's movements, though at first slow and almost confined, carried with her an explosiveness that would reveal itself in the tiniest of ways like a twitch of the finger or the tremble of her powerful legs and feet like tree roots planted firmly in the ground. You could almost see it boiling under the surface and emotionally you could definitely feel it. The title of the piece is “Katsu Katsu Katsu”, which in Japanese, is the cry uttered by Zen Masters when reaching enlightenment. Itis a very fitting title as choreographer Vangeline providesthis moment of "Katsu" brilliantly executed by Maki Shinagawa. For me these moments of Katsu came almost as a shock in comparison to the slow, physical Butoh meditation I was experiencing. When I say moments of Katsu or enlightenment came, I mean it almost seem like Maki's body was suddenly liberated in wild and unpredictable almost inhuman ways. It almost felt like she was a marionette and had surrendered her body to a higher power almost violently at times moving her onstage. The final result for me was a very engrossing, emotional and theatrical experience.

Written by Chris Carlone, on November 7, 2014

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