Eric Wolfram's Writing, Review of Eiko and Koma

Eiko & Koma

Eiko & Koma danced with 81 year old Anna Halprin in a shared evening of dance, theater, and music. The music was performed by a Bay Area cellist Joan Jeanrenaud. Together they created Be With. I saw the show at Yerba Buena Theater in San Francisco late in January, 2002.

To watch Be With is to watch a summer twilight, so red and beautiful was the back drop and the lighting. To watch Eiko and Koma move across the stage is to watch the sun move from two inches above the horizon until the sky is pitch black. They move that slow.

The dictionary says dance is "To move rhythmically usually to music." The active verb is move.

Eiko and Koma moved slower then a number 5 Fulton Bus lumbering down Market Street on a busy shopping day in late November. They moved about as fast as the ebb tide retreating from a still silent morning. They moved so slowly, the registration renewal line at the California department of motor vehicles probably moves faster then they did! I hesitate to call what they did movement. Watching Eiko and Koma was like watching a painting -- literally. They move that slow.

For instance, during the course of Anna Halprin's long entrance onto the stage, and while the image of Eiko and Coma burnt forever into my retina, an entire saga was told in my imagination. My saga was completely different from the saga of the person sitting next to me. However, when I looked around the at the audience; Eiko, Coma and Anna Harprin put a spell equally hypnotic to all who watched -- each of us in a personal Iliad -- on our own Odyssey.

By the time I snapped out of it, my arm was welted with an impression of the chair and my hand was stuck to the program. And the show wasn't even over yet. I was fooled again by another false ending where the lights dimmed and my hopes for an intermission kindled. Such lighting added to the over all effect of the ultra slow motion time warp and boredom. There I said it. I was bored. Evidently, Eiko and Coma are not my kind of Buto-Sha.

Buto-Sha is that nightmarish, mesmerizing and slow Japanese dramatic dance form. Buto-Sha is the foundation of Eiko and Coma's work. And at first, the Buto-Sha aspects of the piece held my interest. However, during the last hour, while I attempted to peal the program from my hand silently, the music strangely absent, I had plenty of time to think about the events of my day and about the itch that was developing in the arch of my right foot.

Eventually, the extreme pace of the show overwhelmed me again. It took me away, for another precious moment, from the fast pace of 21st century city mayhem and into the leisure of this beautiful art.

How strange is it, to have suffered through it once, that I may have developed a taste? It IS strange how the image of the dancers resonate in my mind still. But my butt resonates too. Will I watch them again. Yes -- gladly -- if I'm lucky. Will I bring a pillow? Probably.

Read what the Village Voice says about Eiko and Koma's Be With

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