Desires and Desiderations
With Judith Kajiwara and Jaysi
Fri May 31-Sat Jun 1
Doors open 7pm
Theatre of Yugen NOHspace
2840 Mariposa St, SF
Sunday, Jun 2
Show begins at 7pm
2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Theatre of Yugen and JypsyJays Productions proudly presents Desires and Desiderations - Three Solo Dance Theatre Pieces. Two seasoned solo dance theatre artists--Judith Kajiwara and Jaysi--bring to life three compelling stories. Carefully lacing the stories together, Kajiwara uses the powerful Japanese contemporary dance form, Butoh; and Jaysi employs a contemporary expression of Kathak dance. Ranging from whimsical to outrage, from shackles to freedom, from frenzy to serenity, Desires and Desiderations is a breathlessly bold exposé of intimacy.
Masterfully using Butoh movement, Judith Kajiwara challenges her viewers in the shameless stories of two women. One story is “modern”, drawing from Kajiwara’s own personal journey; the other is “ancient”, based on a 1,000-year-old Japanese legend. Though The Dress (2012) and Kurozuka (The Black Mound) (2012) take place during times, and at locations, worlds apart, they each wrestle with the same deafening havoc hidden within, as each character seeks to understand and fulfill her desires. Exhausted from their respective journeys, both women ultimately tap into and reclaim a boundless Spirit, both arriving at the exact same inner haven of renewed gratitude and peace.
The Dress is a thought-provoking parody that signals the end of relationships everywhere. It was inspired by a fancy new dress Kajiwara found in her closet. She’d purchased it as a splurge when her marriage was still new. She dreamed of wearing it for a special occasion. Twenty years passed and that special occasion never came. The marriage ended and the dress had long been forgotten. Still with tags attached, The Dress becomes a live animation of feelings and events—seen and unseen--that chew her up and spit her out. This performance is dedicated to those who no longer seek love outside of themselves but have, at last, found it within.
Kurozuka is Kajiwara’s Butoh interpretation of the 1,000 year-old legend about the Demon Woman of the Black Mound. Performed throughout Japan in both the traditions of Noh and Kabuki theaters, this is mostly likely the first Butoh interpretation. The story is about Iwate, an elderly woman who lives isolated in the cold, remote mountains of Northern Japan. It is a poignant drama about a once-beautiful woman whose life turned sour through abandonment, betrayal, and shame. The tale takes an unlikely twist when a group of Buddhist priests accidentally arrive at her doorstep, asking for food and shelter.
This is the 4th generation performance of Kurozuka. In celebration, Kajiwara has added some new elements to the story which will no doubt be pleasing to the audience.
Jaysi performs Aawara, LaVagabonda, an intercultural contemporary Kathak dance theater piece that draws upon the life and classic works of the controversial French author Collete. Classical Kathak and contemporary movement, text, and songs probe the complexities of longing, loneliness, desire, and the need for independence and freedom. The piece juxtaposes the conflict between a woman’s inner desires and societal expectations. Excerpts from Colette’s La Vagabonde form the textual core of the dialogue between the protagonist and her unseen female confidante. The music is based in classical Hindustani ragas bookended by folk songs in Urdu. The piece is set in a rhythm cycle of 13 (Jaitaal) for its simultaneously lyrical and discomfiting quality. Original music created for the piece includes parts for piano, sarode, violin, vocals, and tabla.
Aawara, LaVagabonda hopes to inspire women to value their original and inherent worth regardless of age or relationship/marital status, and to nurture their intellectual and creative pursuits. The protagonist is an amalgamation of revolutionary heroines such as Colette, Amelia Earhart, Umrao Jaan, Edith Piaf, and Arundhati Roy. Though their life histories include romance, their fulfillment lay in the cultivation of their talents. Women often abdicate this freedom at great expense to their human potential. Aawara explores how we negotiate the spectrum between freedom and security and exalts another option.
About the Artists:
Judith Kajiwara started dancing at the age of 4, and has never stopped moving. Throughout her life, she’s studied countless forms of dance and martial arts. As a young, unseasoned dancer, using live drummers, she began teaching free dance classes in San Francisco’s Japantown. Her students and drummers were featured at one of the very first Nihonmachi Street Fairs. Kajiwara, now quite seasoned, still loves teaching as much as performing; and has brought the joy of dance to hundreds, if not thousands, of folks from ages 4 to 94.
Jack of all trades? Master of none? Because of Kajiwara’s vast exposure to so many unrelated dance/movement forms, she holds within the depth of her consciousness, a bottomless pit of body memory. When she decided to commit entirely to Butoh, she discovered that improvising from this unlimited fountain actually nourished and pushed the boundaries of her Butoh. Everything happens as it should, though we don’t realize it until years later.
In their bios, artists always give credit to those greats they’ve worked with. Kajiwara has never included this list in her bio, but would like to take this space to do so for the first time. Looking back, she’s very privileged and honored to have worked with so many talented artists!
Having created a huge body of Butoh solo pieces since the premiere of Ballad of Machiko in 1995, Kajiwara has worked entirely as an independent, self-producing artist. During this time, she has been accompanied by some of the finest Bay Area improvisers/composers. Because funding was sparse, all of her musicians virtually donated their talent. These wonderful people include Michael Kobayashi, Shoko Hikage, Gino Robair, Philip Gelb, Roy Hirabayashi, PJ Hirabayashi, Hugh Livingston, Keiko Koide, Charlie Chin, Steve Nakano, The San Francisco Zen Center Monks, Greg Murai and the Oakland Jazz Choir.
In addition, numerous poets and writers have inspired her work. These include Anita Chang, Pear Urushima, May Iwahashi, Ronald Tanaka and numerous unknown authors from the Japanese American Internment camps.
Dancers who’ve performed in rare duets with Kajiwara include Lipton Mah, Yoshie Akiba, Ray Chung, PJ Hirabayashi, MaiYah Matsumura, and John Doyle.
Kajiwara is forever grateful to these talented artists who’ve shared her passion for the stage. She deeply apologizes if she’s forgotten anyone.
Kajiwara lives in Oakland where she teaches hip hop at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
Jaysi was born in Chandigarh, India and raised in Plover, Wisconsin, the town with love in its heart, the home of Plover Potatoes. She took her first ballet class at the age of two and has been dancing since. Besides the usual childhood ballet, tap, jazz, and gymnastics, she has extensive training in classical Indian dance and contemporary dance. She studied bharatnatyam with Hema Rajgopalan for 10 years and Kathak with Chitresh Das for 10 years. She has also studied contemporary dance for over two decades and contact improvisation for several years. In the past couple years she has added tap, tango, and flamenco to her training regimen. Recently she was recognized as an emerging choreographer in the Bay Area by ODC. Internationally, she has had the honor of performing at the Nehru Centre in London in 2010, and opening the Festival of the Arts for Non-violence and Tolerance 2011 at the prestigious Darpana Theater in Ahmedabad.
Jaysi is also musically inclined and loves literature. As a child, she studied western classical violin through the Suzuki method for ten years, and has been studying tabla with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri for nearly 20 years. Thanks to the tutelage of the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, she’s incorporated singing into her dance practice and is extending the tradition of Kathak by including the kanjira which she has studied from Pandit TH Subhash Chandran. A chapbook of her poetry, “Missus Rhesus and Other Poems,” was published by the Writer’s Workshop in Calcutta.
In spite of her artistic tendencies, she is a practicing physician trained in family and community medicine, and in occupational and environmental medicine from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). She graduated with a doctoral degree in medicine from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and earned a master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in environmental health from the University of California Berkeley. She enjoys caring for patients part time at the Tom Waddell Clinic for the Homeless. She also creates a podcast about prioritizing well-being, Nei Jing Now! (www.neijingnow.org)
In a world that extols the virtues of the specialist she has found herself to be the rare interdisciplinarian who believes in excellence through integrated versatility. She thrives on the layering of forms, approaches, and methodologies and believes the process is enriching. The polishing of the layers upon layers as a performance piece requires intense concentration. As such, each of her creations is developed over months and years of dedicated practice.
Jaysi is enormously grateful to her parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, and loving friends. She feels deeply indebted to all her teachers in every field. She also is very appreciative of her artistic collaborators who are each world class artists in their own right.