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Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Forest of Threads—Plexus, Director's Note

French physical theater maverick Aurélien Bory (Sans Objet, 2012 Next Wave) Japanese dancer and choreographer Kaori Ito as both muse and instrument in Plexus, coming to the BAM Harvey Theater Nov 9—13. A note from Bory follows.

Kaori Ito. Photo: Aurélien Bory
Once again my aim was to depict the portrait of a woman, not in the ways of a painter, a photographer or a writer, all very superior in the matter, but I brought body and space into play as the sole focal lens. And dance as the first perspective.

Conceiving Kaori Ito’s portrait through the means of the stage has been a whole process. The scenic device was not a concept we started with. Its design has resulted from a long research period, after several weeks of rehearsal.

On the first days, among other ideas and trials, I had a life-sized puppet made; it was a very realistic scale model of Kaori. “Here is your dance teacher,” I told her. Kaori spent many hours observing and mimicking its movements. From this creation model, I kept only the strings and unfurled them into the whole space. The marionette remained in Kaori’s body.

Out of the strings, I composed a tangible, alive space, a forest of threads where a metaphysical tragedy emerged. It tied strong links with Japan. Of course I did not mean to give a “Japanese” impression, but Kaori comes with her own story and assesses her estrangement. I did not want to turn away from this. Some myths from Japan, some recurring motifs kept surfacing. On the one hand, there was the idea of spiritual ties with the deceased and with one’s ancestors. On the other hand, a relationship to the body, where beauty has an intrinsic dark side, mingled with disappearance and self-effacement.

Plexus emanates from the innermost—the anatomical network of nerves, which can be our Achilles heel—to the outside, to space, here the network of strings, reminiscent of the Latin etymology of the word plexus: interweaving. The dramaturgy evolves from the inner self— from before life itself—to the thorough externality of after death, when the body disappears and dissolves and the being merges with myth.

I hoped that Kaori Ito’s dance, sometimes hindered to the point of immobility by an impossibly constraining space, could offer us a glimpse of the dialogue between inner and outer worlds.

After the premiere at Vidy, a journalist reminded me that after the long immobility sessions Isadora Duncan inflicted upon herself, she reported having located the central spring of every movement at the plexus. “The solar plexus lifted the body up, towards the au-delà.”

Plexus comes to the BAM Harvey Theater Nov 9—13, and tickets are still available.

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