A post-earthquake contemporary dance piece, see/saw by Nibroll came to Malaysia in the last two weeks of February. Nibroll, established in 1997, is a dance company led by choreographer Mikuni Yanaihara. Nibroll produces performances created through collaborations with video artists, musicians, and fine art practitioners, and had travelled throughout the world. This performance marked the first appearance of their full scale show to be staged in Malaysia.
Directed by Mikuni Yanaihara, their latest piece, see/saw speaks of life and death _ how quickly our view can change. It was premiered in Japan in 2012, together with the local dancers who were chosen by the audition. The piece received full house for almost entire period of 4 weeks, and long favorable reviews by the critics were published in Japan.
Arriving in Penang first, on 17th February 2014, the lively troupe went straight to work. A heavy tree was cut down and transformed into a see-saw on stage within a day while the Japanese technical team and the Malaysian crew set up at the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac).
The audition in Penang was held the same night. Mikuni decided to work with all 10 participants who turned up, as her intention was to work with people who are willing to express themselves, regardless of their skills or experience in dance. The whole program was set to share the experience of an earthquake in Japan in 2011, through artistic expression.
After only four days of intensive rehearsing with the local performers, they modified their original piece and performed it in the penangpac to a full house on the Saturday night 8: 30pm, 22nd Feb 2014.
After the Penang, the group headed back to KL, and this time 22 participants were chosen, making the performing group even bigger. Three shows were put in the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center on the 28th February and 1st March.
During both the rehearsal period in Penang and KL, Mikuni seemed to pick up the best part of each performer, modifying the structure of the scene to fit to these young talents. Some of the participants were good actors, some of them were trained dancers, and some were very happy just to be on stage for the first time. The process was fun, engaging in lots of physical exercises, but from time to time, such as when one participant asked “why do we shout in this scene?”, then everyone sat down together and started talk about their personal experience about the death and life.
The After-talks were held in each performances, attended by 4 main creative directors of Nibroll: Mikuni Yanaihara, choreographer and director; Keisuke Takahashi, visual director; SKANK, the Composer and Takuya Kamiike, set designer.
In the talk it was revealed that this was the very first time for the Nibroll to bring the piece outside of the Japan, and soon they had realized it will be a complete different piece. In Malaysia, although there are many who sympathetically worried about Japan, it was a challenge to be in part of such a dance piece without experiencing the earthquake or similar trauma. Mikuni also confessed that she had struggled before deciding making a work of the earthquake, as she was not sure if it was appropriate things to do. However she came to decide, encouraged by the words of great choreographers in the past who told her to keep making works even in the most difficult times, if she is going to live her life as an artist.
In Malaysia many have never experienced a natural disaster of that magnitude. However, many audiences, as well as participating dancers, voiced in the after talk that they were able to connect because they had lost someone they loved. A piece with much to learn from, many stayed back after the performances to discuss the contents of the work.