Known locally for music written for the Japanese dance troupe Sankaijuku seen at the Olympic Arts Festival in 1984, composer Yas-Kaz (Yasukazu Sato) over the weekend opened the "Cross-Rhythms" series at the Japan America Theatre with a problematic solo debut.
Two of his movement pieces on Friday ironically made far more impact than his moody jazz works.
In a dance solo "Journey to the Yonder," Yas-Kaz evoked wonder and poetry with lyric, wavy, weightless hands and arms, freely articulated limbs and torso, tai chi circular movements, Kabuki stretched-out poses and finally an eerie disappearance into the shadows.
If the movements and the daubs of white paint on fingertip and face recalled Sankaijuku, the connections were undoubtedly intentional: The work was dedicated to Yoshiyuki Takada, the company member who accidentally plunged to his death during a performance of the "hanging dance" in Seattle on Sept 10.
Dancers Toshio Seki and Roxanne Steinberg similarly mesmerized attention in "The Relations Between Bisons, Bananas & Rods," projecting slow-motion crawling and searching sea-creature or human shapes onto a blue-lit screen, emerging from behind it to writhe and turn before eventually retiring mysteriously out of direct view again.