Yukio Suzuki
  • Yukio Suzuki
Despite the rain and the ridiculous tropical mugginess that has clouded Portland in a shroud of sweat and uncomfortable moisture this week, The Offsite Dance Project On Thirteenth was still able to draw a substantial crowd. The show consisted of two pieces, set in unconventional performance spaces, by two emerging Japanese Contemporary choreographers/performers: Yukio Suzuki and Zan Yamashita.

We started in PNCA's Feldman Gallery, where the 60+ of us audience members crammed in, taking seats on the floor, or leaning against the walls, waiting, and I assume some such as me, wondering just what was in store for us. I personally was wondering why had Zan Yamashita decided on a gallery space as the performance venue for his piece? I think I have an answer for this, but first, the piece:
Zan Yamashita and his playful and absorbing performance was both laugh out loud funny and also telling in the way it explored his process of making dance and creating art.
The piece was essentially a journal entry, that Yamashita read out loud as Ezra Dickinson performed the motions that Yamashita had laid out in his writing (whether or not this was his actual journal is knowledge I don't currently have btw). Yamashita would read "foot flies in the air" and Dickinson would fling his leg up as high as possible. Yamashita would say "cluck like a chicken" and Dickinson would do so. You get it. This was the progression of the dance. But what was accompanied with the movement instructions were also self-reflective thoughts that Yamashita also read out loud. He would interject his doubts, concerns, frustrations and self-encourgaments that all had to do with making a piece of dance and trying to be in an artist. It made for a humorous and chin scratching twenty minutes.
And here is my thought on the space:
I suppose it makes sense, when given the subject matter: an artist struggling to express himself and do his work, that it would be set in an unconvential space. Almost as if Yamashita had doubts that what he created was an actual "performance" and that to put it in a theater would be a transgression or would embrace a formality that the piece wasn't ready for yet. Things that make you go hmmm right?

Ok, my ramblings are already getting too long to stay on the front page. If you want to hear more about these pretty engaging and FREE pieces, follow me after the jump.

Ok, onward to the 2nd piece. We then left PNCA and walked a few blocks down 13th Ave, and found ourselves in the back parking lot of Bridgeport Brewery, where Yukio Suzuki's frame was flung out on top the wooden railing of a staircase going about 20 feet up. Check it out, my phone took a shitty picture:


Suzuki used this railing, the staircase, the concrete of the parking lot, an industrial ladder leading him to a roof and then to a chimney, and all of this while the rain really started to pour. This dance was as site specific as it comes and Suzuki braved the elements and embraced the ever fading industrial space of Portland with vigor and commitment.
At times, sight lines became a pretty big issue for the piece and my enjoyment of it. Suzuki's piece from what I could tell, was very much about a struggle of (or for) hope. It was a battle to keep a form together and then experiencing it falling apart. Which meant, he spent a lot of time on the ground. Which was great when he was up high. Very bad when he was on the ground. This wasn't a deal break however, and it is still recommended that you see him do his thing. Even if it is raining. It rained last night, and it actually added to the piece. Almost as if Suzuki was accounting for our weather's reputation.

Anyway, you've heard my two cents. You don't need me to officially say that I recommend this (ahem free) hour of dance do you? I didn't think so.