Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saburo Teshigawara, Japanese Dancer, Choreographer and Company Director

When modern dance germinated in Japan in the 1910s, to many it appeared another Occidental dance form. Over the years, modern dance practitioners have been influenced by the dance pioneers like Wigman, Dalcroz and Graham. Teshigawara, however didn't follow any one's modern dance style, and his works didn't fit easily into any of those associated with conventional modern dance. His choreography is not a restatement of modern dances heritage, but a unique, redefining of dance.

Born and raised in Tokyo, Teshigawara studied plastic arts in the 1970s and began to study classical ballet in 1976. He began choreographing in 1981 and began his company KARAS, in 1985. After winning several awards over seas invitations poured in from theatres and festivals in Europe, the United States, and Japan.

Set design constitutes a significant feature of his works, he assigns the same importance to scenography as to dance. Teshigawara uses specific materials to deliver the dominant theme of each work, for example, sheet glass is used in Blue Meteorite and The Moon Is Quicksilver. The floor is covered with sheet glass and he stands, stomps and kneels down, smashing and cracking the glass, which in turn creates dazzling effects with the stage lighting.

Teshigawara's movement vocabulary resembles Graham, Cunningham and Butoh all thrown together. As a direct result of his unconventional creative style, Teshigawara is one of the most sought after choreographers in Japan and abroad. He says his dance is derived from the present, instead of following the retrospective modern dance model, and he proceeds as a choreographer in his own light.

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