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IMPRESSIONS: TAKE Dance’s “In The Sea of Heaven” at The Flea Theater

IMPRESSIONS: TAKE Dance’s “In The Sea of Heaven” at The Flea Theater
Cecly Placenti

By Cecly Placenti
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Published on June 24, 2019
Photo by Francisco Graciano

June 5, 2019

Dancers: Brynt Beitman, Seyong Kim, Lauren Kravitz, Jane Sato, Kristi Tornga,Nana Tsuda, Marie Zvosec

Composer/Musician: Kato Hideki

Takehiro Ueyama, Artistic Director and Choreographer of TAKE Dance, creates works that are emotionally nuanced and kinetically bold. He performed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company for eight years, and that influence is clear in narratives that emphasize subtle emotions delivered through full-bodied movements.

However, Ueyama’s style is his own. He was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, and the fusion of Eastern and Western culture is an important element in his work. His choices in music and subject matter, coupled with daring athleticism, make his work not merely seen, but fully experienced.

Four businesswomen sit in chairs taking off their high heels
Take Dance; Photo by Francisco Graciano

In The Game 2, a satirical piece about female competition in the corporate world, four dancers vacillate between control and disorder. Set to Beethoven’s Symphony in C, Lauren Kravitz, Jane Sato, Kristi Tornga, and Marie Zvosec walk onto the stage one by one, dressed in black skirts and jackets, their pumps pounding the floor. Their uptight, Times-Square-at-rush-hour speed is peppered with rigid gestures: a sharp opening of the coat, a tug on the lapel.

Methodical steps morph into wild jumps and flailing arms as their facades crack and anxiety surfaces. At one point, the fury subsides. The women take cigarettes out of their pockets and lounge in chairs before rejoining the rat race. What results is an all-out brawl, the performers kicking, punching, and pulling at each other. Composure is nothing more than a thin veneer.

A man places his hand on a woman's face, her hand under his
Take Dance; Photo by Francisco Graciano

Similar in feeling but different in context, Les Rêves D’Après Midi explores a businessman torn between his work and his home life. We see a man sharp and composed, but what we feel is a man haunted and divided. Dark-suited Brynt Beitman sits in his chair, robotically typing on a computer. One leg stretches out hopefully before he descends again into compliance. For a moment, he stands and then sinks into a slow split as he holds on to his tie. He mimes a phone call, and the lights come up on Jane Sato moving through a kitchen, preparing food. Her forced perkiness hints at inner agitation.

Choreographed by Kazuko Hirabayashi and premiered by Ueyama and Jill Echo in 2004, Les Rêves is set to Debussy’s "Prelude à l’après-midi d’un faune." Beitman returns home and briefly connects with Sato in lush, sweeping lifts and curving waltzes before retreating again. In a memorable moment, Sato dips under Beitman’s arm, his hands trailing through her hair. As she passes, his eyes stare into the distance miles away from her.

Dancer lie prone on the floor in the fetal position
Take Dance; Photo by Francisco Graciano

The only piece without a definitive narrative, In the Sea of Heaven, enchants with an otherworldly allure. Seven dancers lie on their backs, legs held in the air and then imperceptibly floating down like a sea anemone closing. The sole set piece — a column of white, frothy fabric — cascades from the ceiling, its edges gathering like foam on the floor. The piece pulses like a wave, flurries of movement ebbing into suspensions that float like seaweed caught in a current. Nana Tsuda arrests in an impossibly long hinge, swaying backward inches from the floor, before wafting into an arabesque.

Movements happen to the dancers, as if caused by an outside force. They dance like they are wondering where they are, eyes looking but not seeing. Minimal and ambient, Kato Hideki’s score conjures a state between dreaming and waking where the performers float in and out of view.

A woman stares straight ahead, her arms crossed over her chest
Take Dance; Photo by Francisco Graciano

Suddenly unison emerges. Lying on the ground, the dancers stretch their arms in a wave and then stand, throwing their bodies into deep knee bends. They run, small sea creatures getting tossed about in water or ghosts flying through the air, only to slow down again. As the lights fade, the cast drifts like smoke through this peaceful, hidden landscape.

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