Salon Series No. 65 Review

Sachiyo Ito &
Salon Series
No. 65

On the Human Spirit      Sunday, June 9, 2019    
Tenri Cultural Institute, NYC

Sachiyo Ito’s graceful introduction to Salon #65
was nihon buyo, a Japanese classical
dance choreographed by Ito, Memories,
Still Water, and Light,
using intricate fan (sensu) and arm movements delicately synchronized with the music
excerpt from Sakura-bune, composed by
Yamato Oshyo. Ito was joined mid-way by dancer Akiko Matsumoto. The two dancers
intertwined their elegant movements with synchronized precision and welcoming warmth.

A recitation
of Rin Ishigaki’s poem, At the Feet of
the Sun
, in Japanese by Makiko Miyai, and English by Emi Kikuchi, was
highlighted by sign language by deaf actress Amelia Hensley.

Rin Ishigaki
(1920-2004) female Japanese poet, began working at an early age as a bank
employee to support her family after WWII. She is noted for creating
astonishing depictions of her untraditional role as family breadwinner. Her
poetry contrasts childhood images with the postwar period sometimes referred to
as abjection by the Japanese during

Following the
poetry recitation, two dancers, Yumiko Matsuno and Yuu Fujita, performed Ito’s
choreography, Ume nimo Haru (Plum Blossoms in the Spring),with classical Hauta music. The duet of
mirrored and shadowed traditional nihon
movements, conjured images of nature, flowers, petals, water and
wine-drinking laughter.

The dance was
followed by Vocalist Beth Griffith’s compelling performance of Wonderful World, the hopeful song by
Louis Armstrong.

The pinnacle
solo by Ito in response to Ishigaki’s poem highlighted the Salon’s themes of
nature, water, light and sun. Entering in a deep purple kimono, Ito’s dramatic performance began with erratic running and
falling, then softly caressing an imaginary child and ominous slow-motion
walking perfectly synchronized with shamisen
music by Sumi-é Kaneko.

Ito’s solo
continued with intricate spirals and coiling turns that ended with a sudden
stop to throw her fan (sensu) to the
floor. Her desperate moves were accompanied by percussionist Yukio Tsuji with
sounds of the bombing that followed Ito’s collapse to the floor. Her hair became
untangled and she began crawling as her kimono’s arms were transformed from
purple to red.

Climatic taiko drumming was softened by the flute
by Tsuji, and the lute accompanist Michael Calvert as Ito carefully rose from
the floor and gathered red cloths to tear and then tie together.

Engaging the
audience’s help to create a large circle of red cloth onstage, several children
in kimonos joined Ito onstage. The Salon #65 performance ended ecstatically
with vocalist Beth Griffith singing Jacques Brel’s If We Only Have Love. With the full cast onstage, Ito’s parting
words to the audience were to observe nature and engage the love that connects
everything on earth.

                                                                                                By:  Dalienne Majors

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