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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Dance review: Comedia 2020 misses an emotional connection

Yayoi Hirano is the rare performer who can hold your attention even when there is no emotional connection taking place

Comedia 2020 tells the story of Dante’s Inferno through a one-woman mime performance by Yayoi Hirano. It seems as though it was important to be very familiar with Dante’s work to truly appreciate this piece.

My knowledge, before seeing this show, was minimal: I knew it was about a man who goes on a journey through the nine circles of hell. After seeing Comedia 2020, I am less certain of the plot than I was in the beginning.

The plot doesn’t necessarily matter, though. Dance and physical performances don’t always rely very heavily on narrative and I have always found the draw of this kind of work to be the overall emotional journey that I am carried through based on the physical images playing out before me. Unfortunately, if that is the case, I found even less connection to the emotional journey than I did to the narrative.

Hirano’s performance was masterful in many ways: every single part of her body moves with expert precision. She has been doing this work her entire life, and it shows.

This is why I was genuinely surprised to find I had no emotional connection to the action before me; I had to continuously check the program notes to see what stage in the progression through hell we were in. Still, it is the rare performer who can hold your attention even when there is no emotional connection taking place.

The performance was accompanied by Marina Hasselberg, who played cello as well as a number of other instruments, providing sound effects and scoring throughout. Her work, which is billed as partially improvised and partially composed by Goushi Yonekura, was stunning. The composition and musical accompaniment were truly beautiful and the environmental sound effects were hauntingly creepy.

While Comedia 2020 may not have hit the mark, Yayoi Hirano is worth watching. This marked the final performance of her company, Yayoi Theatre Movement Society, but she will continue to work as a freelance performer and we will be lucky for it.

No further performances.

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