xDancing on the Edge Festival & TomoeArts
Weaver Woman

Date and Venue 3-5 July | Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St

Reviewer Ed Farolan

The myth of the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd originally comes form China, and is popular throughout East Asia. It tells of separated lovers who become the stars Altair and Vega. These two stars are kept apart by the "River of Heaven" or Milky Way but are allowed to meet on one side of the river on the seventh day of the seventh month each year.

Based on this myth, Korean short story writer O-Chonghui, came up with a short story adaptation of this myth entitled Chingnyo (Weaver Woman) about a woman waiting for a husband who may not return. This story was adapted into a 45-minute dance performance by Vancouver’s choreographer and performer TomoeArts Artistic Director Colleen Lanki, working in collaboration with dancer-actor Matthew Romantini. Colleen is a specialist in nihon buyoh (Japanese classical dance) and Matthew is an expert in transforming literary works into performance. The choreography is based on a nihon buyoh (Japanese classical dance) vocabulary and aesthetic combined with expressive movement and gesture.

This dance-theatre project involves movement, text, music and projected scenography. The music is by Lan Tung for erhu (Chinese lap fiddle), voice, percussion, and cello. Lan is an internationally renowned composer and musician and the leader of the Orchid Ensemble. Lan Tung, members of the Orchid Ensemble, and special guests perform the music live.

It was an exhilarating experience seeing all these performers--dancers, singers, narrators and musicians together with light and projections producing scenographic elements; through light and space, designed by textile artist Ines Ortner who also created the costumes and a hanging textile object onstage.

Actor and playwright Maki Yi performs the text and acts as dramaturge on the project. Maki is an interdisciplinary artist, and fluent in English and Korean. Not only did she narrate in both languages, but acted and danced marvelously.

This was a unique performance, something different from the usual contemporary and Western-style dances that we see. True enough, the festival is an international one, and seeing a dance performance influenced by Asian traditions is truly refreshing.

© 2015 Ed Farolan