Last night was the first and last performance of Fluid Hug-Hug's Glowing. If you missed it, my apologies in advance: It would be a lot better to see the dance—it’s so much about the subtleties in seeing—than to read whatever recap I will muster about it. Check this out, at least:
The majority of the piece is performed in silence (you can barely hear the dancers’ feet hit the floor). This means all of the attention is on the visuals, and there’s a ton to see indeed. The lighting and the movement are masterful. Choreographer Kota Yamazaki has a Butoh background, but infuses it with a lot of other dance influences. Yamazaki’s company, Fluid Hug-Hug, is comprised of six dancers, hailing from all over: Japan, America, Ethiopia and Senegal. The name "Fluid Hug-Hug" says a lot—the word “fluid” kept coming to mind during yesterday’s performance. From Yamazaki’s website: “Yamazaki believes that a person is fluid and has to keep flowing, like water, so that exchange between people from different backgrounds can become more easy and free. The name of Fluid hug-hug came from this idea of fluidity and meeting people from all over the world.”
Glowing is a dance that makes you marvel, for one, at how controlled the body can be, but also at how it slows down movement to make you closely examine the body's form itself. The dancers use the entirety of their selves and their motions. From full-out seizure spasms to the tiniest flicker of a finger—from head to their toes, they have a complete awareness of their body. As for overriding themes, the emphasis is on lightness and darkness (the costuming is strictly black and white, the floor is white and the curtains are black). Yamazaki was inspired largely by the essay In Praise of Shadows, by Japanese author Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s. In terms of plot, in terms of rising and falling action, nothing really “happens” here—which maybe sounds boring (it’s definitely not what I would consider a crowd-pleaser), but, if you're patient enough to pay close attention, there’s a lot to offer.
In Tanazaki's essay, he talks a lot about dishes and lacquerware, which (bear with me!) is actually super relevant to this performance. It gets at that tight attention that turns into a dreamlike quality, which pervades much of Glowing. Here, this passage:
Lacquerware is light and soft to the touch and gives off hardly a sound. I know few greater pleasures than holding a lacquer soup bowl in my hands, feeling upon my palms the weight of the liquid and its mild warmth…With lacquerware there is a beauty in that moment between removing the lid and lifting the bowl to the mouth when one gazes at the still, silent liquid in the dark depths of the bowl, its color hardly differing from that of the bowl itself. What lies within the darkness one cannot distinguish, but the palm senses the gentle movements of the liquid, vapor rises from within forming droplets on the rim, and the fragrance carried upon the vapor brings a delicate anticipation. What a world of difference there is between this moment and the moment when soup is served Western style, in a pale, shallow bowl. A moment of mystery, it might almost be called, a moment of trance.
And, with that, I’m going to go get rid of all my Tupperware now. Have fun at the Works tonight; maybe I’ll see you there.
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