PuSh Blog

Curatorial Statement – Umeda

December 19, 2012

By Mirna Zagar, Executive Director of the Dance Centre

It’s always great to be able to bring back an artist once introduced to a community. The simple option of such possibility gives a certain sense of continuity in what any presenter  desires – establishing a relationship between an artist and his/her work and the audience. So it is with Hiroaki Umeda whom we introduced in 2009.  With his breakthrough work While going to a Condition–wherein the calculatedly disorienting light and sound effects  provided a trans like ambiance that simply wowed all. 

Since then Hiroaki has travelled across the world and has created several new works. His signature too has evolved – though his solos are still characterized by extreme tension between real corporeality and a disembodiment in media. 

His path into dance is also somewhat to be reminded of at this time as it has influenced and continues to influence his work and way of choreography. He started with the study of photography before switching to dance training out of pure practicality: photography is expensive, dance is cheap.  Whether or not that is an actual fact remains still to be decided on!  He never did undertake any serious dance training and thus is not inhibited by the notion of any tradition, form, style.  Haptic, created in 2008 continues to build on and play with the notion of transmitting sensations, rather than messages to the audience. He continues to explore, stemming from photography and its core elements upon which he draws ideas driving them onto stage… optics, light, speed…and, as he strives to present a physical aspect of the perception of color. 

In his more recent work Holistic Strata from 2011, he goes further though still playful with the idea of perception, illusion – this time through utilizing racing light particles. I will stop here as one needs to be in the theatre and see, experience the sensation, rather than the sensation be described! 
Both of these two works will remind us why we invited Umeda back… 

Umeda’s work is always playful. He is not trying to impress nor to lay out a deep rooted philosophy nor is he trying to convince us in a universal  truth…he simply does what he does..He does so with such precision and conviction. Calculating each and every detail but in a very sincere way to generate the desired effect… and that is why its always fun  to engage and watch him perform. In this world in which we in our daily lives are impacted and exposed to electronics, gadgets and more – Umeda offers us a different perspective on more geeky, brainy works out there that are exceptional in themselves in how they utilize, are impacted by or interact with technology. 

His approach is to the other extreme, equally and differently contemplative. He makes it appear simple, pleasurable and, I’ve already said it – playful… I do consider him a geek among artists, who never quite mastered the dance but the dance is in him and he is the dance … I sometimes think of him as a living lighting conductor, a whirlwind of visual agitation, a dancing landscape. With Holistic Strata we have to be prepared to be taken on a journey consisting of extraordinary sensory experience…it hits us leaving us with a high, a buzz, which lasts a while until it subdues into a strangely satisfying come-down. 

Mirna Zagar, Executive Director of the Dance Centre

Hiroaki Umeda/S20 (Tokyo, Japan)

January 25-27, 2013  8:00PM
Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie Street