Melody Takata’s ‘Suna’ to Be Presented June 16

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Melody Takata (Photo by Kioto Aoki)

SAN FRANCISCO — “Suna” (Sand), a new work by Melody Takata, will be presented on Friday, June 16, from 8 to 9:15 p.m. at Tateuchi Hall, 1830 Sutter St. in San Francisco Japantown.

Integrating movement, projection, music, and social practice research strategies, “Suna” will explore the intersection of tradition and modernity in postwar Japanese culture and aesthetics. Artistic direction by taiko artist and choreographer Takata with filmmaker and composer/performer Tatsu Aoki (shamisen, taiko, electronics) and composer/performer Francis Wong (saxophone).

Co-presented by Genryu Arts (www.genryuarts.org), Asian Improv aRts, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, and Nihonmachi Little Friends as part of Japan Week 2017. Partial support from a grant from the San Francisco Art’s Commission Community Investments Program. Admission is free but seating is limited. RSVP at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2985193

Inspired by the work and trajectory of Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara (1927-1992), “Suna” will reference the intersection of tradition and modernity in postwar Japan. Teshigahara, known on the one hand as an avant-gardist collaborating with famed Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu and author Kobo Abe, was also, as the son of Sogetsu flower arranging grandmaster Sofu Teshigahara, a bearer of this classical tradition. In fact, Hiroshi himself became a Sogetsu grandmaster in 1980, 15 years after his celebrated masterpiece “Woman in the Dunes,” nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film.

Within ikebana, it was his arrangements featuring bamboo that garnered the most appreciation. In reflecting on this legacy, the proposed work will explore the struggle between loyalty to tradition as a kind of fatalism (a theme in “Woman in the Dunes”) and the desire for the artistic freedom promised by the Western avant-garde. In “Suna,” as in Teshigahara’s trajectory, this seeming binary is challenged and complicated by the innovative artistic practice and lived experience of project collaborators Takata, Aoki, and Wong.

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