Choreographer Takehiro Ueyama
Take Dance is known for its storytelling and its intensity that is both forceful and delicate. But at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center on Saturday night, Artistic Director Takehiro “Take” Ueyama showed a more painterly side – one that expressed his curiosity of the mysteries of the world around us.
It flourished in his Landscape series, which included a world premiere of “Landscape 3,” a work that paid tribute to Japanese pop singer Hideki Saijo. But the preceding dances “Landscape 1” and “Landscape 2” demonstrated that Ueyama is drinking in the natural world for inspiration.
The first dance, with Eun-Kyung Chung and Seyong Kim, was a balletic rendering of birds in flight. Set to Bach’s “French Suites,” the two soared and banked through the space, gently resting with each other before taking fight again. It was a beautiful, fluid conversation between the two dancers.
“Landscape 2” was an earthbound affair with Katherine Bittner, John Raffles Durbin and Lauren Kravitz. Inspiring reptilian thoughts, the piece felt heavy, a little dark and not as satisfying. The costume trousers, which featured cut out at the hips, were distracting. It was clear that Ueyama, who designed the costumes, should stick with choreography.
The unveiling of “Landscape 3,” with Brynt Beitman and Kristi Tornga, made up for the wearisome “2.” Set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” the piece had Beitman throwing himself into the song with both confidence and vulnerability. Tornga, a sturdy tornado of a dancer, backed him up as a sharp shadow of his ego.
Beitman also played a pivotal role in “Wake,” a work from 2016, which opened up the second half of the program. Dancing with Jane Sato, he appeared an angel rousing Sato from a sweet slumber to the enchanting centuries old music that unspooled from tenor Jeffrey Thompson and Ensemble La Reveuse. The compatibility of the music and dance elevated the relationship between human and spirit and thus the impact of this stirring work.
And like "Landscape 1," the dancers showed their sensitivities toward one another. They merged and pulled apart lusciously and seamlessly. The partnership was uplifting.
Finally “Stuart,” to crashing rhythms of Les Tambours du Bronx juxtaposed to Max Richter’s emotive minimalist sound, was both gratifying and confusing. Featuring Kravitz and Tornga, the piece swung from intimacy to grinding, repetitive gestures. At one point, Kravitz let out silent screams while Tornga struggled in the background. But then in an instant, they two were back, seemingly at work, driving forward mindlessly.
“Stuart” was thought-provoking and begging for a second look. Here's to hoping we can get one at Kaatsbaan soon.