By Karen Campbell
Jo Ha Kyu is a traditional Japanese principal of time in artistic composition - an orderly beginning, a breaking away and a rapid conclusion. there is just such a sense of order and inevitability in the choreography of Arawana Hayashi, the artistic director of the Jo Ha Kyu Performance Group.
At Friday evening's performance with Abydos Movement Collaborative, Hayashi's works seemed measured, deliberate, completely thought through prior to careful execution by her six impressively focused dancers. Her compelling blend of East and West, traditional and modern, is slow-moving and subtle. It is not for every tast. The Western eye, accustomed to flash and dazzle, must re-calibrate to appreiciate the challenging aesthetic of nuance and control.
Even in the danciest sections, such as the untitled solo Hayashi danced herself, there was no flirting with danger, no risk-taking pyrotechnics. Every gesture seemed calculated.
"The Beginning of a Community," to a colorful score by Steve Gorn, had a lovely ritual quality. Kara Gilmour's precise walk and isolated gestures gradually became more integrated into phrases of breadth and momentum. Olivier Besson enscribed the slow, suble movements of Michelle Brade with tape on the floor, creating a maze of crisscrossed lines, which the women soon deconstructed, befor ethe trio finally converged.
The six memeber Abydos Collective Movment, with whom Jo Ha kyu shares dancers Braden and Gilmour, also seems t share an interest in ritual. However, what began in Jane Bulger's "Floaters" as a procession of women with bottles to a stone basin soon evolved into a turgid drama.
There was a lot of frantic running, some splashing about in the basin, the motions of drowning and some soundless screams before the women began to drink from the bottles, as if taking refuge in long draughts of some potent liquid.
Kelley Donovan's "Strange Attractor" was a lovely sensuous piece generated by the flick of the wrist. More like a swirl, actually, with fingers curling and uncurling, leading the arm, the head, the body about the space. This was the richest, most dynamic choreography of the evening, and Donovan's performance was expressive and polished to a fine sheen.
The improvised "Pandemonium" was dominated by Steven Solomon's large masks and Roger Miller's electronics. The title says it all about these good natured, but self-indulgent antics.
Left to Right: Kelley Donovan, Mia Pem, Jane Bulger, Michelle Braden, Kara Gilmour and Kristen Kissik of Abydos Movement Collaborative
A Review of "Seeds and Secrets" in June 1995