We entered; there was a sign on the door that said NO FOOD, NO SHOES. The likes of which was new to me, because usually we had to have shoes on to enter any establishment. The sheer Japansesness of it all was putting me in a happy mood. I had always wanted to go to Japan. I felt like I was getting a local international experience. I gladly took my run down tenor shoes off, with the netted front covers that were already sporting a hole on the left side. I perched my coat up over the small rack that came up about mid-waist. It was functional but looked like it had been borrowed from the Barbie dream house. The theatre was more like a small ballet studio. It was semi-dark with various hanging light bulbs that flickered on and off the sound of tweeting birds chirping from the walls it sounded like. Chairs were set up facing one another in diagonal corners. We sat in the next to last row underneath a camerawoman who was perched up on a foot stool.
A thick black mat covered the floor. My feet sunk into it, molding each step like I was walking on wet sand. It felt nice. There was about a row of us. I was the only boy in our group, and in the room until the other patrons started to trickle in. There was a large group of Asians, along with a hipster who sported a fro and thick black, cat framed glasses. There was an older gay couple that looked like they knew all about theatre, plus the endless array of straight men that most likely were there because it was their girlfriends turn to pick date night.
While sitting, the various hanging lights would fade in and out with the bird chirps. I looked down at the flyer that I was handed upon entering and it had the three girls I saw from the website. Two of which were wearing animal heads. One was on a table wearing a rabbit head, the other was on all fours with a horse’s head on. It looked more like an advertisement for a fetish ball. Personally I think that the line between the two is about as thin as a corset string.
“You know there’s a game tonight. It’s the Saints and the 49rs. Oh God I wonder what the score is,” said Alyssa Milano’s taller twin.
It was interesting that there were so many hard core sports enthusiast who were women. Usually I only knew of girls who watched sports to mask it as quality time with their significant others. I personally think it is cool when you see a switch like that. I call them Wilk Girls after Kendra Wilkinson. She’s the only sport’s enthusiast frat boy who was also in Playboy.
“Shh,” came from a woman in front of us.
We didn’t notice that there was a small Japanese woman in all black that had taken to the northern end of the floor. She just knelt and looked forward. Smiling at the audience, she then fell into what looked like a staring contest with the wall.
“So, is there a plot to this at all,” I asked my friend.
When I think of improve, I always picture Drew Carry on Whose Line is It Anyway?
My friend shrugged her shoulders up and smiled.
“Shhh,” came from the same woman in front of us.
Looking at the back of the woman’s long hair that faced me with the coarse sound of her “SHH” sound made me imagine her as Cousin It from the Addams Family. I began to laugh when the lights went out.
I guess the show was starting. The subwoofer picked up and natural sounds, mixed with symphonic music played over us like a soft rain. The music began to coincide with the flicking of the bulbs that would vary in brightness. It was cool to watch them move, spotlighting different areas of the Yoga studio.
The small Japanese woman began to move around the room walking as if she had been summoned by Dracula to “come hither”. She stopped opposite the room when an incredibly tall girl with thick glasses and wavy red hair stood up and walked onto the mat. I wondered if she was just trying to find the bathroom, but she pulled from behind her a long clarinet and began to play. The sound engineer stopped with all the do-dads and switches while we watched this giantess play her long instrument. Somewhere between the zombie walk and clarinet recital a third girl entered the room. She walked to the center of the room and faced the wall and began to twirl in circles.
The other two followed. The Japanese woman picked up a folded music sheet and danced in a circle, while the clarinetist ran around her. It looked like she was trying to read the music while they twirled together. I have to admit, that running in circles would take up all of my breath, so I wasn’t sure how she could run and blow through the mouth piece at the same time.
Eventually the Japanese woman was left twirling in circles on her own until she was rolling around on the floor, soon stopping as if she were a imitating a raccoon that got hit by a car. She soon stopped as would the raccoon (it didn’t beat the car). Then everything stopped. When the lights came up again the clarinetists added some longer part to her instrument that gave it a deeper more saxophone type of sound. From there we got to watch them walk imaginary type ropes. They crawled on their hands and feet looking down at what appeared to be bus schedule pamphlets that were tapped to the floor. We saw them walk from side to side meeting in the middle as they embraced one another at the center. They stood there for a moment contorting their bodies in such a fashion that it looked like they were trying to meld into one another’s bodies; instead they were just trying to pass one another without taking their feet off the bus schedules.
"Are they gonna make out,” said the business expert.
“I don’t know, I thought they were going do something too,” I said.
She seemed to join in with the installation lights by adding her own that came from her cell phone.
”I think the Saints just scored,” she said.
As the lights faded in and out, it became clear that the show wasn’t about birds. Instead it took a bit more of an asylum feel. The two dancers would undulate and move as if they were having seizures or like they were trying to mimic that dead girl from The Ring. The girl that we all came to support had rotated in front of us and stood their shaking and moving, hugging her self as if the spasm in her arms and legs were trying to break free from under her skin. Her hair draped over her face, imprisoning them behind wild strands and follicles that changed color under lights that were getting more aggressive. There was a climax of dance movements that were Linda Blair style that culminated into a silence of movement and sound. We were sitting in the dark again.
“How much longer is this,” a loud voice from the end of the aisle said.
A bunch of us cracked up under our breaths. The lights slowly came on and we found ourselves sitting there not sure what to do next. The dancers and musicians were gone as if they had teleported into the darkness.
“Is it over,” one said.
“I don’t know,” I responded.
“I think this is just the intermission,” said my friend.
“You mean there is more?” said the same voice that started the chatter.
I turned to the camera woman above me, who was patient enough to put up with us being right below her. I’m surprised she didn’t push the camera down on our heads.
“Is this an intermission or is it over,” I asked.
“I believe it’s over yeah,” she said.
We gathered in the main lobby and got our shoes back. Most of the dancers and musicians were doing a meet and greet.
“Look, my friend who was in the show is coming out for drinks with us later. So…even though we didn’t get it, we all loved it okay,” she said.
We all complied.
Fast forward to Coffee Shop in Union Square, we were all enjoying a beer while trying to decipher the events of the evening, which soon turned into a gradual acceptance of the unknown. When the one dancer we all went to support showed up we raised our glasses to her with a genuine spirit of accolades if for no other reason than the fact that none of us could probably do what she did.
“So, tell me how you came up with all of that,” I asked after the pleasantries.
I finally got to see her face up close. She was sweet looking with a wholesome face and pleasant dimples.
Turns out their whole performance was based off the music of Giacinto Scelsi. He was Italian and a composure whose wife left him, which lead to a psychiatric breakdown. He was recognized for his ability to base his compositions around one pitch. While distraught he would play that single pitch and nurse himself back to health with it. Scelsi would often create entire compositions around this one pitch. One of his master works, Quattro Pezzi Su Una Nota Sola was considered to be very innovative. It all came full circle now while watching the dancers and sound artists try to play off these one pitch compositions by adding their own layers of dance and music, plus light installations.
The whole thing sounded much more brilliant. It managed to dance, ha ha pun, over all our heads. I wasn’t sure who in the audience would have gotten something like that until I noticed that it was all written on the back of the flyer. I guess those animal heads they were wearing were clever.
All in all, the night was charming and reminded me of Friday night at the club where you have to pay over priced admission to watch people do crazy dances to music that no one’s every heard, or has been ruined- usually by the D.J. I wasn’t sure how to weight this one because at least a club has scantly clad bodies, but this experiment in musical show and tell gave me my first blog entry. I got to feel smarter for going to it after is was fully explained to me, which is more than I could ask for at a club.
Thanks to my friends and the CRS for giving me a peculiar night of fun.
Rating: 3Ps out of 4.
Next Time on This Peculiar Life…Psychedelic Rabbis and Religious Highs
Hanging out at Barnes and Noble and meeting my first Rabbi who shared the wisdom of dropping acid.