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Art, Not A Stunt

September 22, 1985

I am offended by Lewis Segal's article about the death of Sankaijuku performer Yoshiyuki Takada in Seattle ("Death Halts Sankaijuku Tour," Sept. 12). I am not completely without bias. I had the honor of spending time with these performers while employed by the Olympic Arts Festival. I have been employed by (festival head and booking agent) Robert Fitzpatrick. I am originally from Seattle. I am a performer. This is why the particular slant of the article that implies that though Sankaijuku might have artistic vision, the "hanging dance" was a performance piece simply not worth the risk, that it was a sensational event done with too little precaution.

To imply that Sankaijuku took foolhardy risks that exceeded their vision is absurd. They would, if not for this single tragedy, still be performing the "hanging dance" to the delight and wonderment of thousands of people.

Seattle Times art critic David Berger called it "a rendering, poetical death that traumatized and maybe changed a crowd, that made it confront the nature of art, the depth of community, the knife edge and weight of fate. A time to die, in Seattle, on a sunny afternoon with the sky so very blue."

The crowd knew. There is a difference between Evel Knievel and Sankaijuku. We in the arts community know too. The difference is clear. To suggest otherwise is to pay great disrespect to an artist who expired so tragically.

SEAN E. MARKLAND

West Hollywood

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