In New Dances and Old, Japanese Choreographer Respects Tradition


The key to Saeko Ichinohe’s artistic survival lies in respect for tradition and timelessness. Before an audience of older dance fans and her fellow Japanese, her troupe recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, surveying several repertory dances and launching two new works. Even the intended nod to the future—Jeff Moen’s handsome, Basho-inspired Dreams wandering over a withered field—was deeply rooted in cultural and modern dance aesthetics of the past. High in quality if conservative in style, the program delved deep into beloved natural and imagined worlds. Pearl, Ichinohe’s premiere, offers cool transcendence in a vision of three women whose lyrical dancing is as luminous and pure as a strand of pearls. In a company chock-full of graceful performers, Katie Higham-Kessler stands out for her work in Pearl and Fire-eating Bird (1966) and as “Winter” in Moen’s Dreams, where she applies a robust clarity of line to all her movements and phrases.

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