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Flash Review 2, 11-10: Pedal to the Metal
Nibroll's Melodramatic "Dry Flower"

By Beliz Demircioglu
Copyright 2004 Beliz Demircioglu

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NEW YORK -- Seen this past Thursday at the Kitchen, Nibroll's theatrical performance "Dry Flower" brought a different perspective to examining the ever-changing definition of beauty. Different stories were told throughout from multiple characters' points of view, exploring their frustrations, pain and suffering.

Choreographed by Mikuni Yanaihara, "Dry Flower" conveyed an intense energy with pauses of calmness. The dancers' full force as individuals and their harsh relationships were revealed as they kicked the floor or each other, or pushed a colleague to the floor. Sometimes Yanaihara was able to capture a pure, childlike, free and simple quality of movement, even incorporating movements from children's games; at other points, her movements had an overwhelming intensity, especially in the upper body, going so far as to evoke epileptic attacks.

The strength of the choreography was in the choreographer's precise direction of the dancers' visual focus. Strong lines onstage were created with the dancers' sharp and directional looks, Yanaihara accentuating the lines with the movement.

She also involved spoken language in some sections to communicate the exact feeling of the moment. In one instance, a performer laid down on the floor and screamed "I don't miss you!" as another dancer -- apparently representing one of her memories -- stood on her back. Performers also told brief stories or repeated certain lines to bring humor and variety to the piece. At one point, a dancer confessed several times, "I think I shouldn't touch it but I did it many times" before finally touching her cheekbone.

Unexpected moments were interesting ideas by themselves but in relation to the rest of the piece they felt out of place. One such interlude came when two upstage spots projected suddenly and with blinding intensity directly into the audience. Later, a woman emerged from a small suitcase and started singing.

My favorite part of "Dry Flower" had one of the dancers entering with a mirror and then playing with the lighting effect the mirror created on other dancers and when reflected towards the audience.

A full projection covering the whole background and the opened up wings created a fuller space rather than a stage that was separated from the audience. The video projections, by Keisuke Takahashi, ranged from cliche three-dimensional figures which almost looked like screen savers to a provocative video collage of constantly changing images followed by a view of a moving sky. Even though the dance and the projection were independent most of the time, the two elements interacted in two passages. The first came when a dancer started watching the video projection of a deer and pursued the animal when it began running. The other came at the performance's conclusion, when some dancers opened their arms to the sides, echoed by a projection of people opening their arms. As the projected figures fell back, birds took flight from inside of them. Some of these collapses were synchronized with those by the live dancers. As all the performers fell down to the floor the screen filled with birds. The dancers slowly stood up onstage as the crash of breaking glass was heard. As they stood, they could only be seen in soliloquy because the only lighting was that of the projection.

In my opinion the facial expressions and "Dry Flower"'s choreography in general were too dramatized. The extremes were carried too far in most of the elements. There were a few times in the performance when audience members had to cover their ears because of the volume of the music.

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