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Flash Review 1, 3-19:
Gonna Fly Now
Condors Versus the Galaxy
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2001 Susan Yung
Condors' "Conquest of
the Galaxy: Jupiter -- Love You Live" was co-presented by the Japan
Society and Dance Theater Workshop this weekend at the Japan Society.
The program took the shape of a variety show or cabaret, composed
of dance segments, film, puppetry, and satiric skits. Its goofy
humor and abundant energy were a giddy, winning combination.
Short films were interspersed
through the evening. Film, which can be edited to create fantasy
scenarios based on real imagery, seems the ideal medium for this
company, which seems to uphold the rock star as its ideal. An opening
clip shows each performer flying from all corners of the planet
to NYC for this stand. The films, a double-edged sword, set a high
standard that the live segments had difficulty meeting.
It seems like this all-male
troupe has spent plenty of time watching Beatles' videos and MTV.
Their costumes, black suits and white shirts, and their mops of
hair, evoked the Fab Four. A New York travelogue film shows the
cast at their rock star best -- dancing wildly on panamoric rooftops
and on cobbled streets, at times evoking the photo of the Beatles
crossing Abbey Road. And the brevity of most of the scenes was clearly
designed by and for the short attention spans of multi-taskers.
Segments of dance were
plentiful. The choreography (by Ryohei Kondo) was free-wheeling
and fueled by adrenaline, full of air guitar arm windmills and chop-socky
leaps and kicks. The company favored 'v'-shaped formations in which
they would perform sharp, big gestures in unison. The most virtuosic
dancer was Satoshi Ishibuchi, whose sharp line and height in leaps
was impressive. Though the amount of energy used and thrown off
was infectious, the coarse edges and over-the-top quality were somewhat
fatiguing by the end.
Silly skits included
a mock wedding in which the men imitated stereotypes of coy, giggling
women; a trip to Japan in which we saw satiric depictions of famous
mountain scenery, the public baths, sumo wrestling, and office workers
(as they passed through after-work drunken oblivion to the infamous
subway rush hour). The acting was frequently highly visceral, and
utilized certain physical stereotypes such as a heavy-set, large
man paired with a short man; each actor-dancer managed to create
a distinct character by the end of the hour and a half show.
Part of the humor and
charm of the performance arose from cultural differences, yet it
was very accessible because the company satirized -- or used in
a straightforward way -- many elements of pop culture that are familiar
to us. A longer skit, revolving around a spaghetti western duel,
cast the players variously as horses, saloon doors, tumbleweed,
even shadows. Condors also managed to convey the extremes of Japanese
societal culture by lighting a fire under these extremes. Their
highly exaggerated facial expressions cut through all language barriers,
right to the source of laughter.
The Condors include Junichi
Aota, Yoshihiro Fujita, Toshihiro Hashizume, Masaharu Imazu, Satoshi
Ishibuchi, Michihiko Kamakura, Yasuharu Katsuyama, Kensaku Kobayashi,
Satoshi Okuda, Hiroyuki Takahashi, and Kojiro Yamamoto.
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