‘Saburo Teshigawara/KARAS’ at The Kennedy Center by Rick Westerkamp

Saburo Teshigawara, Artistic Director of Saburo Teshigawara/KARAS and choreographer of Mirror & Music, is an artist of the highest degree. Mirror & Music, having its North American premiere at The Kennedy Center, features Teshigawara’s prowess not only as a choreographer, but also as a set designer, lighting designer, costume designer, and sound engineer. This performance, start to finish, has his singular aesthetic, and I attribute his design of every element of the show to its success.

 Saburo Teshigawara/KARAS. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.
‘Mirror and Music.’ Photo by Sakae Oguma.

Teshigawara explores the idea of mirrors in this work, both what is behind a mirror and light reflected off of mirrors. His aesthetic is very natural and realistic, what with the costumes ranging in color from black, to gray, to white, to khaki. The lighting set the mood of each moment and created a perfect arc to the evening. From the flashing strobe-light effect of the beginning gestural phrase work, to the amber overhead light while dancers moved at a fast pace, to the shadow of Teshigawara himself on an arc of screens, the environment was clear due to the lighting. The choreography seemed bounce back and forth from reacting to external stimuli in the environment created by the light, to using pressure against the external stimuli in the environment.

The dancers (Saburo Teshigawara, Rihoko Sato, Eri Wanikawa, Kafumi Takagi, Rika Kato, and Mie Kawamura) are all highly skilled technicians of stellar extensions, fast gestural phrase work, and small, repetitive phrases requiring the best stamina. The dancers also have an organic look of calm across their faces as they perform these gorgeous compositions. Nobody is “putting on” a modern dance expression in this company, but rather this company is living in the moment, and not reacting to the movement they’re performing in their facial expressions.

Music in Mirror. Photo by Sakae Oguma.
‘Mirror and Music.’ Photo by Sakae Oguma.

This evening of dance is truly remarkable, both in its stark aesthetic and the depth Teshigawara finds within said aesthetic. The mirroring of dancers, whether in the duets, solos, and trios happening and being layered over each other, to the structure of the piece, such as a group piece, followed by a solo, followed by a group piece, is truly remarkable. The musical score will keep you on the edge of your seat, from the classical music, to the industrial soundscape, to the stark piano tracks; Teshigawara finds similarities across musical genres I never knew possible. You do not want to miss the North American premiere of this modern dance marvel.

Running Time: One hour and fifteen minutes, with no intermission.

Saburo Teshigawara/KARAS in Mirror & Music has one more performance TONIGHT-September 13th at 8 pm at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater – 2700 F Street NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600, or purchase them online.

Saburo Teshigawara/KARAS website.


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