Arts + Culture

Japan’s Pappa Tarahumara Company Brings its Evocative Dance Theater to UCLA Live With Hiroshi Koike’s 'Ship in a View' Feb. 3-4


Pappa Tarahumara, the extraordinary Tokyo ensemble merging newand ancient theater with dance and contemporary Japanese opera and directed byrenowned choreographer Hiroshi Koike, comes to UCLA Live for two nights inFebruary. The multidisciplinary company performs the West Coast premiere ofKoike's atmospheric work, "Ship in a View," at 8 p.m., on Friday and Saturday,Feb. 3 and 4, at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus. The performance runsapproximately one hour and 40 minutes. There will be no intermission. Fortickets, call (310) 825‑2101, visit or contact Ticketmaster.

Named after the Tarahumara Indiansof Mexico's Copper Canyon as a gesture of respect and out of a desire totraverse cultural borders, the ensemble is strongly influenced by an Asiansense of time, motion and lyricism. Pappa Tarahumara builds astonishingly beautiful visual images inproductions where performers, stage objects, music, lighting and costumes allplay equally important roles.

The company's members are YeungChi Kuk, Mariko Grady, TakyuaIkeno, Kaori Kagaya, Rie Kikuchi, Yoshiko Kinoshita, Makoto Matsushima, MasakiNakamura, Hiroko Nuihara, Keiko Okamoto and Makie Sekiguchi. They are alladept at song, dance and drama, alchemically conjuring a new form that directorKoike calls "stage poetry." By combining the innovation of modern dance withthe pacing and intense symbolism of ancient Japanese Noh theater, they striveto capture the enduring wonder and indescribable beauty in all things.

"My first concern in makinga stage production is not the beautiful human body nor interesting movements assuch, but rather the elements that concern me are 'time,' 'space' and'performers.' The flow of these three in combination is the most importantaspect for me," said Hiroshi Koike in an interview with the Mainichi DailyNews. "What creates this flow is the human body. A body is like a containerfilled to the brim with time-honored experience and knowledge. This is what Iwould like to share with the audience on the stage."

With "Ship in a View,"Koike's has created a beautiful and powerfully evocative milieu using a seasidetown in the 1960s as a motif. The piece is a free-flowing panorama of imagesfrom Koike's memory, as intensely personal as a dream, and yet welcoming tooutside wanderers. Observers encounter flashes from a life: the town, aschoolyard and the distant ship. Characters meet, interact and watch from afar.The mesmerizing work is bathed in light and shadow and borne on hypnotic sound.The ship, used as a point of departure, slowly crosses the stage. A flagpole isthe stage's centerpiece, and could be both standing in a playground or be theship's mast. A nostalgic singing resonates. The restrained movements of peoplein black and white costumes eventually become an intense dance. The stagesuddenly transitions into a magnificent space filled with voices; the horizonshines with daybreak and silhouettes of people emerge.

A collective sense of history and deep-rooted feeling areevoked through everyday images depicted in abstract and concrete movements — awoman eating an apple, a vendor's song, a classroom, a mysterious man dancingwith a doll. A man sits as if watching everything. The stage fills with lightsfrom fiercely flickering bulbs. The costumes turn silver and a futuristic sceneunfolds, although a direction or even an ability to leave is not revealed. Theship links the town and the world, but also is symbolic of people's unfulfilleddesire to escape. A chorus of longing and nostalgic voices punctuates the sceneas the ship crosses the stage, the promise of relief just beyond reach.

Asdescribed by Jane Vranish in the PittsburghPost-Gazette, "From this watery palette, Koike created a memorable emotional landscapeof images, heightened by a cast of dancers that sing, singers that act andactors who move — part of a new wave of multidisciplinary art where nothing canbe taken for granted."

Hiroshi Koike studied sociology at HitotsubashiUniversity. After working as a television director, he established Pappa Tarahumara in 1982. He haswritten and directed numerous pieces, and since 1996 has collaborativelyexplored works with artists from around the globe. He also has been a directorof Koike Hiroshi Performing Arts Institute since 1995, chairman of The AsianPerforming Artists Forum in Okinawa and director of Tsukuba Cultural Foundationsince 1997.

Pappa Tarahumara, withits Asian sense of time and motion, has offered unique performances under thedirection of Hiroshi Koike since its inception. When performers, stage objects,music, lighting and costume become one, the spectacle generates its own poetry.Pappa Tarahumaraproductions try to liberate the audience, leaving viewers free to control theirown imaginations. To achieve a universality that transcends national borders, Pappa Tarahumara seeks aninterchange of ideas among artists worldwide.

This performance issupported by The Japan Foundation through Performing Arts JAPAN.

Tickets for Pappa Tarahumara are available for $42, $30 and $20 at the UCLACentral Ticket Office at the southwest corner of the James West Alumni Center,online at at all Ticketmaster outlets. For more informationor to charge by phone, please call (310) 825-2101. UCLA students maypurchase tickets in advance for $15. Student rush tickets, subject toavailability, are offered at the same price to all students with a valid ID onehour prior to show time.

UCLA Live is an internationallyacclaimed producer and presenter of music, dance, theater and spoken word,bringing hundreds of outstanding and provocative artists to Los Angeles eachyear.



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