Friday, June 18, 2010

Japanese Enchantment

Naoko Maeshiba's Paraffin is a kinetic wonder. Returning to Theatre Project this weekend, Maeshiba's performance troupe Kibism mesmerizes the viewer with one mysterious tableau after another. Employing mime, aerial movement, and muscular choreography, the various scenes evoke search, love, oppression, and death.
Three particularly haunting scenes remain in the memory. Wrapped in golden dresses and tissue-paper headdresses hiding the face, three women taunt three athletic men writhing in their dark suits. In a melancholic picnic pursued under the rain, three characters evoke the jealousies and shared memories of family life through the rhythmic movement of pot, bowls, and blanket. Evoking mechanical oppression, a troupe of white-uniformed technicians reduce a patient to a suffering object under the ballet of their probes and charts.
Far from narrative, the performance evokes the raw passions of fear and desire as the body is stretched to its physical and expressive limits. Presiding over the performance as a regal, expressive angel on a trapeze, Maeshiba develops a choreography remarkable for its energy and sculptural precision. Her movement is ably complemented by her electronic musical score and by Kel Millione's lighting design, which bathes the entire production in an ethereal golden light.

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