The Primal Elegance of Eiko & Koma at REDCAT and CalArts

On Friday, March 4, Eiko & Koma led a master class for approximately 20 fourth year BFAs of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts. In from New York for their five days of performances at REDCAT (see gallery below), Eiko & Koma’s class in the Lund Dance Theater began with a brief video introduction to the couple’s work comprised of clips from pieces produced over their 40-year partnership and collaboration.

Then Eiko made her only request of the class: “If you do not like this kind of work,” she said softly, “please pretend that you do.” She performed a solo demonstration of her slow, meditative movement technique, beginning curled up on the floor, but as she said, “always moving.” Next, in a lulling, comforting voice she guided the class through the same exercise, each dancer experiencing the presence of her or his body in each moment and each movement, regardless how slight. In the third phase, Eiko asked each student to partner with another, and again, from a starting position lying on the floor, to slowly find, connect, and move together with the other dancer. Koma joined the circle at the end of the class inviting the dancers to attend their performances at REDCAT over the weekend. The students reported that they left the Lund feeling inspired, refreshed and rejuvenated.

Sunday afternoon’s performance of Retrospective Project 1:Regeneration treated the full house at REDCAT to a sampling of Eiko & Koma’s newest work, Raven (2010), Night Tide (1984), and an excerpt from White Dance (1976). Their powerful, riveting dances engage with the most elemental aspects of the human condition: our essential aloneness and alienation, as well as the search for connection–to the natural world, to others and to ourselves. More than their universal themes, however, it is the raw emotion expressed through controlled, precise movements of their faces and bodies–slowed to warp speed–that transform the time and space shared with each other and the audience. The couple’s work was acknowledged with a standing ovation to which Eiko and Koma responded, first by touching their hearts and then, by picking up raw potatoes from the stage, (props from White Dance) and handing them to members of the audience.

To view a clip from Eiko & Koma’s most current work, Naked, A Living Installation, click here.

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– Video by Stuart Frolick
– Photos by Steve Gunther

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