CULTURE

The cutting edge of Tokyo dance

A multimedia performance company, Japan’s Leni-Basso, will be taking the stage at the Art Factory in Patras – European Capital of Culture 2006, with a performance called «Ghostly Round.» The cutting-edge, Tokyo-based company was founded in 1994 by students at Waseda University as part of the contemporary dance movement that arose in Japan in the 1990s. It is led by artistic director and choreographer Akiko Kitamura, an artist who has gained international critical acclaim for the explorative manner in which she blends clean dance movements with lighting, video, sound and other media. «Each medium,» says the company, «expresses itself through the development of the interplay in the space, which is organized as a matrix of dance rather than a platform for representation. The pulse of the interplay between the media, like a vital fluid, provides the inspiration for dance in a space of intercommunicating media.» Akiko Kitamura was born in Tokyo in 1970 and studied ballet, jazz and street dance in her youth before going on to study theory at Waseda University. Her professional career began in her teens, during which she choreographed pieces for commercials, fashion shows and theater plays. After founding Leni-Basso in 1994, she spent a year in Germany as the resident artist of the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, but it was not until 2001 that she gained her first international opening by being invited to the Bates Dance Festival in Maine, USA, to create a solo piece. In 2003, Kitamura was invited to the American Dance Festival and created a short piece titled «Enact Oneself.» She went to Penn State University and created a short piece for Orchesis, the dance company run by the university, and then went on to premiere a new solo work, «Scramble Suite,» at Theater Tram in Tokyo. In «Ghostly Round,» a 2005 piece co-produced by the House of World Cultures in Berlin, the choreographer has aimed to «show the essence of dance; the tense relationship between discipline and chaos.» The House of World Cultures describes Leni-Basso as having «gained an international audience over the past few years… famous for their breathless choreographies and pulsating dance technique. Their work demonstrates their brilliant use of new media and the latest forms of communication and also reveals the influence of contemporary European dance.» The music for the production is by Yusuke Awazu, the videos are created by Akihiko Kaneko, the lighting is designed by Yuji Sekiguchi and the costumes by Kyoko Domoto. «Ghostly Round,» at the Art Factory in Patras tomorrow and Sunday at 9.30 p.m. Tickets cost 10 euros in Zone 1 and 5 euros in Zone 2.