In the Hidden Spaces is an improvisational score inspired by dancing I did in Japan, as well as the general sense of artistic aesthetics that permeate the environment. In the spring of 2012, I visited a house built by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, a famous writer. The house happens to be in Kobe, which is Seattle’s sister city, where this improvisational score premiered at the International Dance Festival summer 2012. In a book called “In Praise of Shadows,” he discussed his struggle to build a house that combined Eastern and Western aesthetics. To him, beauty manifests in the interplay of shadow and light. It’s in the contrast between what you can see and what is left to the imagination.
In this score, the goal is to find spaces of shadow and light in which to illuminate the beauty of the performance space. I performed this solo but the score can accommodate any number of dancers, placed in small groups along a path. Dancers explore the entire space given to them, searching out hidden corners usually left unobserved. In these spaces, the aim is to draw out the beauty of shadow and light through Western and Eastern movement aesthetics. The score also draw from Tanizaki’s own writings as inspiration. Each dance is over when the dancer or dancers successfully create a striking tableau, utilizing architecture and light, which causes audience members to view the space anew. The dancers find another hidden space and the process repeats.
The end results are improvisational, Noh-inspired dances that play with shadow and light. In a contemplative manner, these dances call attention to oft-ignored spaces, illuminating hidden beauty.