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Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia

ArtsEquator’s Top 10 Picks of TPAM 2020

The Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama will focus on dance and physical expression this year. Since it was established as the Tokyo Performing Arts Market in 1995, the annual event has never quite stopped moving – including a move to Yokohama in 2011 –  and has come to be known for its consistent spirit of experimentation with works by artists from all across Asia and the world. The 24th edition of TPAM 2020 runs from 8 to 16 February 2020 at various locations in Yokohama, as well as some in Tokyo.

ArtsEquator jumps into the deep end of the TPAM 2020 programming pool and emerges with a list of 10 shows to catch:

 

Freeway Dance by Ayaka Nakama. Photo: Junpei Iwamoto

1. Freeway Dance by Ayaka Nakama

When: 14-15 February
Where: KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre, 281 Yamashita-cho

What do you remember about your first dance? This work by Kobe-based dancer Ayaka Nakama involves a free spirited choreography guided by “other people’s memories (of their first dance)”. Audiences get free rein to move around an indoor planted garden complete with swing and toy vending machines, as they encounter Nakama’s four-hour-long solo performance, which includes a break for food. Freeway Dance is an attempt at being choreographed by everything that exists in the world, including different stimuli located in the garden. The work questions the power systems involved in dance production, and connections between dance and non-dance phenomena.

This work is part of TPAM Direction.

More info

 

Sandbox Bento by Performance Troupe TAIHEN. Photo: bozzo 

2. Sandbox Bento by Performance Troupe TAIHEN

When: 9-11 February
Where: KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre, 281 Yamashita-cho

Referencing the Japanese bento lunch box, TAIHEN’s work Sandbox Bento promises to be both witty and insightful. Established since 1983, the troupe is known for its pushing the boundaries of movement exploration, beauty and inner expression, working primarily with performers who are physically disabled. Performers – appearing as typical bento items such as umeboshi pickled plum and octopus-shaped sausage – will move, crawl and roll across the stage, with “kuroko” or anonymous stagehands assisting them. Liberation, joy, pain and sadness intermingle in this work by TAIHEN – its name is a play on the word “hentai”, and its work a manifestation and questioning of queer and strange appearances and conditions.

This work is part of TPAM Direction.

More info

 

No 60. Image by Jaturakorn Pinpech

 

3. No. 60 by Pichet Klunchun

When: 15-16 February
Where: KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre, 281 Yamashita-cho

This work, intriguingly titled No. 60, is a reference to the 59 core movements of the Theppanom, passed down reverentially from master to student as part of the Thai traditional dance canon. The latest offering by dancer-choreographer Pichet Klunchun, the work interrogates ideas of tradition, mastery and independence, while offering a way forward.  When it was first presented (as a work-in-progress) at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre Studio, audiences marvelled at how Klunchun had examined, presented and broken down the codified geometries of Thai classical dance, much like William Forsythe had done before with ballet. This presentation at TPAM 2020 is the world premiere of the work, bringing together movement, sketches, drawings, live music and video. 

This work is part of TPAM Direction.

More info

 

Photo: Greg Wong

4. Philosophical Enactment 1&2

When: 10-11 February
Where: KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre, 281 Yamashita-cho

Philosophical Enactment 1&2 are short pieces exploring the relationships between dance and discourse, by Chennai-based dancer-choreographer Padmini Chettur. The two pieces look at the interaction between and critical engagements of performance discourse rooted in and coming from India and that of the outside world. Part 1 involves a “long continuous spiraling of the body in conversation” with writer and poet Aveek Sen. Part 2 will see the involvement of academic and scholar Sreenath Nair, whose work explores the tension between ancient Indian performance knowledge and contemporary performance discourse coming from Europe. 

This work is part of TPAM Direction.

More info

 

Photo: Gang Hyuk Yi

 

5. [Title to be announced] by More Jimin & Akira the Hustler / Pijin Neji & Tetsuya Umeda

When: 16 February
Where: Cliff Side, 2-114 Motomachi

This genre-defying performance – actually two – has an intriguing premise. Happening on one night only, this yet-to-be-titled show features collaborations between two pairs of artists, Korean drag artist and choreographer More Jimin with Japanese artist-activist Akira the Hustler; butoh-trained dancer/choreographer Pijin Neji with performer/sound artist Tetsuya Umeda. In programming this work, producer Jooyoung Koh says she hopes to “place myself on the boundary between performing arts and what is not performing arts, art and what is not art, and theatre and what is not theatre”. The Yokohama venue contains its own magic too, being a dance hall that opened barely a year after the end of World War II. 

This work is part of TPAM Direction.

More info

 

Seksyen 19 by Lee Ren Xin. Photo: Lee Ren Xin

 

6. Seksyen 19 – A dance ritual in the neighbourhood by Lee Ren Xin

When: Ritual: 8-14 February; Sharing session: 15 February
Where: The neighbourhood and schedule of the ritual are planned to be announced on 7 February. No tickets required.

Malaysian dance artist Lee Ren Xin has been regularly carrying out a walking and dancing “ritual” in communities in Section 19 in Petaling Jaya for a period of 18 months. Now supplanted in Yokohama, the artist will go through a similar ritual, embedding herself within the local community in a piece that asks questions about the space afforded to bodies, as well as her own position as a “spectacle” in the neighbourhood. It also looks at the politics of programming, asking the uncomfortable question of what happens to a society after a show is over. After one week, Lee will share about the process on 15 February. 

This work is part of TPAM Direction.

More info

 

IBUIBU BELU by Eko Supriyanto. Photo: David Gesuri

 

7. IBUIBU BELU: Bodies of Borders by Eko Supriyanto

When: 12 February
Where: KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre, 281 Yamashita-cho

Acclaimed dancer-choreographer Eko Supriyanto’s latest work shines a light on Likurai, a dance from the Indonesian region of Belu in Nusa Tenggara Timur. The dance was traditionally performed to welcome victorious warriors after battle, and bears both Portuguese and Indonesian influences. This quietly political work incorporates movement, rhythm, songs and textile traditions that both unite communities from Nusa Tenggara Timur and neighbouring Timor-Leste, while highlighting the physical borders between them. The work is performed by five dancers, one of whom originates from East Timor.    

This work is part of TPAM Direction.

More info

 

The Retreat by Thanapol Virulhakul, Reina Kimura, Hokuto Kodama, Sachi Masuda, Osamu Shikichi. Photo: Hideto Maezawa

 

8. The Retreat by Thanapol Virulhakul, Reina Kimura, Hokuto Kodama, Sachi Masuda, Osamu Shikichi

When: 12-15 February
Where: Yokohama Boat Theatre

In last year’s TPAM, this work took the form of a 15-hour open workshop which explored choreography via practising various forms of “retreat” from the unfamiliar or unknown in our daily lives. Intended to reflect the modern sociopolitical history of Thailand, this idea of retreating is also meant to engender new possibilities of living and moving. This year, Bangkok-based choreographer Thanapol Virulhakul (from Democrazy Theatre Studio) returns with The Retreat as a kind of pop-up programme with four Japanese dancers, who have all gone through months of self-training in preparation.  

This work is part of TPAM Direction.

More info

 

Ashita no Ma-Joe: Rocky Macbeth by KPR / Kaimaku Pennant Race. Photo: Takashi Ikemura

 

9. Ashita no Ma-Joe: Rocky Macbeth by KPR / Kaimaku Pennant Race

When: 8-10 February
Where: 3-47-1 Wakaba-cho

What do you get when you cross a manga about boxing with Macbeth? Based on scenes from 1960s mega-hit manga Ashita no Joe, this work cleverly reflects the rise of Joe Yabuki from delinquent to professional boxer with the rise and fall of Shakespeare’s tragic hero. Expect lots of spandex.

This work is part of TPAM Fringe. 

More info

 

Kiosk by ARICA. Photo: Ryuji Miyamoto

 

10. Kiosk by ARICA

When: 9-11 February
Where: BankART Station, B1F of Shin-takashima Station, Minatomirai Line

Kiosk, which will be performed in a subway station, follows the life of a kiosk attendant. Through repetition, the piece exposes the relationship between the human body and labour, accompanied by live electronic music. Kiosk is presented by ARICA, a Japanese theatre company known for its absurd Beckettian style.

This work is part of TPAM Fringe. 

More info

 

TPAM 2020 takes place from 8 to 16 February 2020 in various locations in Yokohama, with some other related activities held in Tokyo. All information is accurate at the time of publishing. Please check the TPAM website for updated information.


This article is sponsored by the Japan Foundation Asia Center.

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