A Japanese dance theatre troupe shows how to balance the cruel and the romantic
The Bangkok Theatre Festival proved that it is gradually more international with the staging last weekend of Malaysia’s Tronoh Theatre Shop “The Egg Story” at the main stage outside the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and Vietnam’s Dragonfly putting on “The Little Prince” at the Children’s Stage on the 5th floor.
Yesterday morning, the 15-member dance theatre company known as soulstory arrived from Yokohama, Japan and they’re now ready for their international premiere of “Evening Primrose Blossom for the Moon” at the Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts this weekend.
Pradit Prasartthong says that the company’s founder, multi-award winning theatre director and choreographer Sakuma Komura, pitched the idea of bringing soulstory to perform outside Japan for the first time at Bangkok Theatre Festival 2013. Thanks to immense support from the Japan Foundation, the plan has been realised.
Komura says that he’s a dancer and an actor himself and adds that “soulstory is not a permanent company but a group comprising dancer and actor friends who like and believe in my direction and choreography”.
“They have different dance and theatre backgrounds and occasionally we teach and learn from one another at the soulstory Dance Studio,” he explains.
“People said that my choreography creates stories and is interesting, so I started soulstory with my friends in 2005. Our first performance was a success and we now create about two works a year ranging from operas to musicals to Ninja shows.”
Komura was inspired by childhood memories for the troupe’s latest production “Evening Primrose Blossom for the Moon”.
“It’s about reincarnation. In the first scene, or what I refer to as the first petal, a woman in the form of a cabbage butterfly, meets a man, a spider. Later on in another life, they will meet in different bodies. She will change from the cabbage butterfly into a bird, a general, a dancer and finally a flower who will meet the white moon.”
Komura himself will also perform – as the spider in the first scene, the lizard in the second, the cumulus in the third and the monkey in the last.
In the performance, Komura mixes various styles from Western contemporary dance to belly dance. “That’s my artistic challenge and I feel the audience wants to see this mix. I’ve been trying to keep a good balance among them since I first created the scenario for the performance,” he says.
The music is equally as eclectic as the choreography. “Three years ago I sent the scenario to my pianist and composer friend Tomoo Nogami. We follow a process whereby I first choose the instruments – in this case, I wanted also niko [Chinese violin] and the wadaiko [Japanese drum] then I pick the music – like traditional Turkish music – to fit specific scenes in my scenario.”
“Evening Primrose Blossom for the Moon” premiered in Tokyo this September and Komura is delighted at the positive response.
“One member of the audience says ‘Cruel and romantic is good’, while other comments include ‘Dance matches music’, ‘Dance conveys the story’, ‘It touches my heart and I learn’, Beautiful and sad performance’, and ‘I’m drowned into your original world and your expression’,” he enthuses.
No need to practise your Japanese or prepare your eyes to read surtitles, this contemporary Japanese dance theatre has no spoken words.
IN FULL BLOOM
“Evening Primrose Blossom for the Moon” is at Chulalongkorn University’s Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts (15-minute walk from BTS Siam, exit 6, along Henri Dunant Road) tomorrow at 7.30pm and on Saturday at 2 and 7.30.
Tickets are Bt500 (Bt200 for students and Bt300 for artists and under 27-year-olds). soulstory will conduct a workshop today from 6pm to 8pm. Sign up for free at DramaArtsChula1971@gmail.com.
For more details, check out “soulstory” and “Drama Arts Chula” on Facebook.