Midori Kashiwagi, an inimitable dancer/choreographer from Japan, known for dramatic dance theater merging two diverse cultures and dance styles - East and West, traditional and contemporary - returns to New York. Kashiwagi takes conventional Japanese subject matter, often from Noh and Kabuki, and creates eloquent and fierce narratives expressed by original dance fusion of Buyo, classical Japanese dance and Western modern and jazz dances.
The program includes the world premiere of Kashiwagi's new work Love Elegy, a portrait of a courtesan struggling with genuine but unrequited love. Dressed in flamboyant Kimonos, Kashiwagi performs an elegant, exquisite and heart-wrenching Buyo solo depicting the tragic life of a doomed woman to a unique blend of modern Japanese music using ancient Asian instruments.
In Carmen, A Woman, Kashiwagi's captivating interpretation of this timeless piece vividly focuses on the intense and fatal relationship between two lovers with her signature dance fusion. Supporting Kashiwagi in the title role of a femme fatale, the award-winning Buyo master Daiki Nishikawa strikingly expresses Carmen's anguished lover Jose, who is entangled in a web of love, lust and deception. Carmen, A Woman was originally created in 2003 and received critical acclaim. Its today's version has been premiered at the second Kamakura Art Festival in 2007.
Kashiwagi's themes center on women's lives, much like many of Martha Graham's works. In this return engagement, Kashiwagi not only combines the dances of two worlds but also tells stories of two women in the attempt to explore distinctions in each as well as their universality.
Midori Kashiwagi, the Inimitable Dancer/Choreographer
Midori Kashiwagi started training in classical Japanese Dance Buyo at the age of six and became an accredited master of the Kashiwagi School when she was only fifteen. In her twenties, Ms. Kashiwagi turned to acting and appeared in many films and TV shows under contract with Shochiku Co., Ltd. While pursuing her career as a professional actress, she encountered jazz dance and was strongly intrigued with it. In 1976, she moved to New York to study jazz dance with well-known dancers including Mr. Fred Benjamin, Mr. Jojo Smith, Mr. Frank Hachett and Mr. Ronnie de Marco. After spending three years in New York, Ms. Kashiwagi returned to Japan and established the Midori Kashiwagi Jazz Dance Studio. She danced with Mr. Fred Benjamin to commemorate the first performance since her return from New York at the Hakuhinkan Theater in Tokyo in September 1979. Ms. Kashiwagi has worked as a renowned choreographer for films and TV shows, and also taught dance at Mifune Geijutsu Gakuin, the acting studio of the legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune.
In addition to numerous stage performances in Japan, Midori Kashiwagi & Company performed at the Florence Gould Hall in New York in 1989, 1991 and 2002 and was widely reviewed by local media including the New York Times, Village Voice and Attitude: The Dancers' Magazine. In the 2002 performance, Ms. Kashiwagi collaborated with talented Broadway and contemporary dancers and presented Princess Kiyohime and The Matsuri Fantasy. The latter participated in the prestigious National Arts Festival organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. The TV documentary of the 2002 New York performance was broadcasted nationwide in Japan.
Ms. Kashiwagi continues an endeavor of creating her own style of dramatic dance theater, a truly original fusion of Buyo, jazz and modern dances combined with her acting talents through ambitious collaborations with artists from various fields and backgrounds.
Ms. Kashiwagi is the Director of the Midori Kashiwagi Jazz Dance Studio based in Kanagawa Prefecture and is a member of the Contemporary Dance Association of Japan.
"Her use of the jazz was ever so slight but ever so subtle in extending and modernizing her tale. She is, indeed, a talented woman who knows enough not to ruin the traditional by adding too much spice."
- William Moore, Attitude: The Dancers' Magazine (Summer/Fall 1991)
"Miss Kashiwagi has an appealing stage presence."
- Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times (Tuesday, October 10, 1989)
"'Carmen', on the contrary, was performed with power and speed. (Ms. Kashiwagi) cast Richard R. Pierlon for Jose, Ben Hartley for the bullfighter Lucas, and Toshijiro Zenki for Garcia. She herself danced the rich expression of love as bohemian Carmen... She deserves recognition for presenting a new work of Japanese-Western cultures more specifically with Japanese and American cast."
- Masahisa Segawa, Weekly On Stage News (November 21st, 2003)
"Kashiwagi dynamically depicted the deep pathos of women. The audience members became breathless, then erupted into enthusiastic applause."
- Kanagawa Newspaper (June 26th, 2002)
"She mesmerized the audience with her dramatic expression of deep pathos of women."
- Yomiuri America (June 14th, 2002)
"The original works of Kashiwagi, which mix the Japanese traditional arts and jazz dance, a unique concept, captured the attention of the New Yorkers as a new approach to jazz dance."
- Dance Magazine (December, 1991)
Friday, December 12, 2008 at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 13, 2008 at 2:30pm