Posted by Rob McMahon
Not since TBA year one have I seen artistry of Kota Yamazaki’s caliber. At the world premier of Rise:Rose last night in PSU’s Lincoln Hall, Yamazaki and his dancers Michou Szabo and Mina Nishimura wowed the crowd with their fluidity and grace.


Early plodding across the stage and breif unison dancing between Szabo and Nishimura gave way to an extended Yamazaki solo. The man is not bound by the conventional limits of a body. He is a whip, an eel. His whole body is in motion at once.
Given Yamazaki’s training and dance backround, his level of mastery is no surprise. He studied butoh under veteran TBAer Akira Kasai (who, after last night, I’m sorry to have missed in ’04), has danced in France, and recently completed a long-term residency in Senegal.
It is these cross cultural experiences that I suspect led Yamazaki to make the statement in the program notes, “when people encounter different cultures…they sometimes lose their identities and must then try to re-explore them by finding roots in the far past or even in the unforseen future.” Although the piece claims to evoke, “unique images of a heaven,” it appeared to me that much of the dance was concerned with that attempt to find roots and regain a sense of self.
What began as three independent dancers exploring their bodies, gradually becomes a series of increasingly long and complex unison pieces. These moments of connection between the dancers (they march and wave, do a vaudevillian side shuffle, and create a circling, fist-shaking huddle) are broken by spastic tangential solos wherein the dancers appear to be losing their grip on reality (they shake, flail, and pant, try with futility to speak). Though physically beautiful, I found these moments a little disconcerting, and was thus all the more relieved when they’d settle back into a group dynamic where their common movements were grounding.
Butoh is a meditative form, so in spite of the dance’s frenetic activity, I was at peace when the lights went down. The dancers had settled into the reclining, restful positions that started the dance, the light was the golden glow of sunset, and the flighty piano soundtrack had drifted off to sleep. The audience took a minute to wake to their role and applaud, but when they did they did so uproariously and on their feet.
Rise:Rose runs Thursday to Saturday, September 15-17 at 7:30 in PSU’s Lincoln Hall.