SpinOff contemporary dance series puts on incredible show with Works-in-Progress

Chicago’s November dance series presents Works in Progress: double bill

The SpinOff performance on Nov. 15 at the Chicago Cultural Center Dance Studio boasted a double bill: Ayako Kato & Bryan Saner and Honey Pot Performance . The groundbreaking fourth event of the series kicked off with Ayako Kato & Bryan Saner’s blue fish part ll. The blue fish practice of being project was born out of Kato’s reaction to the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster of 2011. Their works express the aftermath of the disaster, and the ongoing protests against building a new nuclear power plant. Kato and Saner met in 2005, but Saner first noticed Kato’s work about five years ago, when he saw her perform a duet with her husband, Jason, on bass. Saner noticed her talent, and she appreciated his movements. That was her opportunity to ask him a question that she been turning around in her head for the past ten years.

Kato’s Hope in Dance

“I was wondering if dance is powerful enough to create some social change,” Kato, dancer and choreographer, said.

Kato said Saner told her he had hope, and that everybody will disappear sometimes, but arts never disappear. After that, Kato said she thought art may not be powerful enough to enact immediate change, but maybe, it can prevent future mistakes, and pull us back in the right direction.

Their performance began with music reminiscent of sounds waves. Kato’s powerful movements expressed frustration, as if to say, “this is our struggle, these are my closed eyes.” Perhaps she was expressing the frustration of those living in Fukushima who have been forgotten. Kato explains that the aftermath of Fukushima is still devastating.

Remembering to Not Forget Fukushima

“But since it is not reported, Toyko people, like people away from Fukushima, are starting not to be aware.”

The music stopped. The quiet added to the depth of the expression of their movements. He watered the tree. He pushed the water toward the audience in an offering. Kato quietly slipped out of the audience, which was four rows of seating in a small theater at the Cultural Center. She moved to receive the water, but she seemed hesitant. He flapped his wings. He put his hand on his heart, then threw it away with a whisk of his hand. Saner and Kato’s bodies moved separately for most of the performance, until eventually, they danced in tandem.

“Fukushima … it’s far away from Chicago. But actually, air is connected,” Kato said. “So, in some sense, we are taking in the air, which other humans sadly contaminated.”

She carried him on her back in a distorted dance move, and she fell under his weight. He covered her mouth. She covered his. He lifted her up. She opened her mouth. He carried her.

Revealing Ourselves to Ourselves

Saner pulled open the curtain to reveal a wall of mirror, revealing ourselves to us, the audience. Saner says there are destructive forces and creative forces, and that he tries to be a part of the creative forces.

“I’m not going to win,” Saner, Social Creative Practitioner, said, “but I’m going to try to create a balance between the destructive and creative forces. That’s all we can do.”

She drank from the water bottle. She poured it into his mouth and onto his hands as if she was hoping he would perk up and grow. He did, beginning with his legs. She poured the water on herself.

“We move based on our mind and thoughts, right?” Kato asked. “And all the phenomena in this world is kind of generated by our own thoughts.

“But if our mind … can be aware of what life is, who we are and what is the right way … If we can move, based on that whole awareness, something can change and be defined, I want to believe,” Kato said.

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