Denise Fujiwara: Eunoia

The Dance Seen

                        As I sit in the Dunn theatre waiting to interview Denise Fujiwara, the lighting cues flicker onstage, the soundtrack fades in and out, the dancers warm up and discuss spacing. The kaleidoscope pops; from the dancers’ woolly socks to the warm colourful shades casting shadows over red wigs and meditating performers.

                    I’m delighted to meet Fujiwara, whom I’ve taken a workshop from, and even more delighted when she recognizes me from that one day. She graciously thanks me for my time and we sit down for a short chat about the show.

                       Eunoia; a spectacle allowing an audience abundant affordances arising along a stage playfully, charismatically, aggravating languages alas applauding dancers adoringly. Though, I’m sure I’ve broken a few rules, something similar to this play on language is what Christian Bök does in his poetic works, Eunoia. The show created by Denise Fujiwara of Fujiwara Dance Inventions was born from a place of constraints where the dance movements, lighting, music and video projection have all been created within a set of rules based on the book of poems each chapter dedicated to one vowel.

                         I ask Fujiwara what delighted her the most about the process, her face becoming stern in concentration and then opening up to fond memory. She recounts when her dancers and herself began creating 5 years ago in stints throughout each year. They weren’t sure what the show would become, if dancing by vowels and poetry would fall flat, or if it would create some magic. The group stepping out into unknown territory bravely continued, questioning whether the enjoyment they got from the process would be shared by the audience. To the delight of Denise, surprises and nuances popped up now and again in the form of just perfect musical performance, or genuinely unique movement sequences. Like an Italian pizza maker she kisses her fingers “Muah!”. Those moments of realization in a process become layers of interest. She goes on to recount the approach of the premier of Eunoia, they had never actually danced the whole show before that day. All the pieces had been performed independently but until then, they were only the parts and not the whole.

                          Denise had drafted her plans, but as I nod my head in agreement she laments, you can only know until the show is actually mounted whether those plans have fruit in reality. The suspense of performing the whole show from beginning to end for the first time turned into another surprise when the audience reacted with the same delight the performers were sharing throughout the gruelling process. One audience member shared with Fujiwara their experience of hearing another viewer laughing hysterically to themselves, while he stayed silent in wonder. Later bursting out in laughter while everyone surrounding him was quiet, he realized the personal experience each person revelled in while watching the show. Whether referencing the dance movements using only body parts with a particular vowel in them, or the notes of the music used during a particular “chapter” of the dance show, each member of the audience has a chance to enjoy the show from their own experience, knowledge, references and sense of humour.

                           Fujiwara reads an excerpt from Eunoia; one of the “O” poems and strangely I begin to see the words hanging in the air between us as she recites. I all the sudden feel like Alice watching the caterpillar’s letters disperse through the air. Though, Fujiwara, I must side note here is much more charming likeable and gentille than the caterpillar.

AAA-EEE-III-OOO-UUUU, the Caterpillar’s Song

                      Within the “O” chapter of the show one movement sequence is dedicated to homologos anatomical structure, like that of a caterpillar, having a relative action to the originating movement. Along with the qualification of having o’s in the word for this bit, much of this poem refers to religion, in which symbols are often homologous so they reference back to the theme. Fujiwara, however, diverges from a theme based production. She trusts in constraints set on the work in order to create layers of movement, music, lighting and projection rejecting any possible ambiguity.

                         Along with the playfulness; precision and duty helped make the work interesting. Thankful for the long time between rehearsals during creation, she attributes much of the success of the work to being dutifully strict with herself over the constraints. Raking through each portion, choreographing sections 3 or 4 times before finally accepting them, her desire to have a reason for every piece of material reigned over the creation process.

                      I can only imagine how I may feel more like Alice as an audience member with bright colours, word play and the inventive movement quality. This time however, I sent two dancers in place of myself to take in the production, as I attend my duties at the restaurant over the weekend. I can’t wait to hear from Olivia Aubrecht and Sara Coffin on their personal perspective of Eunoia.

Check out Olivia’s Write-up of the Show!


“Eunoia” Fujiwara Dance Inventions Presented by Live Art Dance

8PM/ Thurs-Sat/ 1-3 October/2015

Sir James Dunn Theatre Dalhousie Arts Centre

Ticket Info and Box Office- Live Art Dance