That Kei Takei is an avid gardener is no surprise considering the large role nature plays in her work. After living for three decades in New York Takei returned to her native Japan -- however, she says her garden is un-Japanese.... [more]
That Kei Takei is an avid gardener is no surprise considering the large role nature plays in her work. After living for three decades in New York Takei returned to her native Japan -- however, she says her garden is un-Japanese. "It looks natural," she explains, "not like a regular Japanese garden which is too organized." Takei finds a parallel between her choreography and her garden: for her dance "organizes itself rather than having movement imposed on it."
Takei began choreographing early and won her first choreography prize when she was 12 for her piece 'March of Good Friends." Although she studied with Butoh master Tatsumi Hijikata, she rejected the Butoh aesthetic as too restrictive. The white-chalked bodies, the trance-like movement, and the "gloom aesthetic" of Butoh inhibited Takei's creativity and expression. Dance for Takei was a lens for viewing life and capturing the honesty and inspiration of movement.
In reaction to the darkness of Butoh, Takei created an ongoing series of dances titled "LIGHT." At last count there were 28 individual parts to the series -- subtitles include 'Wind Field,' 'Dream Catcher's Diary,' 'Rice Field,' 'Pilgrimage,' and 'Stone Field.' Her work is of the earth and about the earth. Simple, grounded movements performed with a spiritual concentration are danced with and among natural props like branches, dried leaves, pine cones, and stones.
Takei blurs the boundaries between nature and high culture by either bringing the natural world to the stage or performing outside. She explains, "Dance is not only movement but the meaning behind it. It's linked with nature, how the body expresses that and is connected to it."
Incorporating the spirituality of Shinto and Buddhist rituals into its movement vocabulary, Takei's work is simple yet complex. One critic suggests that every element of her work "conveys a message from the universe. Her dances loosen the soil of habit underfoot and remove the roof of custom overhead." [show less]