Sachiyo Ito & Company 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 Occupation.
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 buyo 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