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Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, August 4, 2000


Spirited Bluewater
shows promise

Bullet Spirit Dancing: Presented by Bluewater Dance Company, 8 p.m. today and tomorrow at Tenney Theatre; tickets $12. Call 524-8483.

By Vivien Lee
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Producing a dance concert is always a labor of love. There's no money in it, just a lot of hard work. But it provides the opportunity to express oneself to a larger audience, to present personally meaningful choreography, and of course, to dance. For some, this creative effort is compulsory, like breathing. For others, it is something they want to try at least once, out of curiosity. For Debra Yamaki, artistic director of Bluewater Dance Company, I suspect it is both. As a dancer, Yamaki has been around for awhile, but "Spirit Dancing" is her first evening-length dance production.

It has the feel of something that has been inside her for a long time that needed to be expressed. But while the recurring themes of birth, awakening and resurrection feel important, and the love and the labor are evident, these were not enough to inspire awe. I want to be swept off my feet by a dance concert.

In a low budget show with simple costumes, simple lighting, taped music, no sets and few props, the choreography and the dancing become all important.

Yamaki choreographed four out of the six dances and dances in five. While she is a strong dancer, had she danced less, she would have better seen the shortcomings in her choreography. For example, in three separate dances, she has slow-motion solos which feel virtually identical. In her "Playing in God's Field," dancers Fay Ann Chun, Malia Yamamoto and Yamaki capably capture the essence of the modern dance concepts of suspension, fall and recovery. They spend most of the time in unison or canon, however, so when Chun unexpectedly turns and pours something from her hand into Yamamoto's, it is a wonderful moment. The piece cried out for more of that kind of interaction.

When Yamaki can see the dance from the outside, the choreography gets more interesting, as in the last section of "Home to the Water," danced beautifully with contrasting energy qualities, breath, and a clear sense of space by Cora Yamagata.

In "Heavy Air/Endless Passage," by Meriam Rosen, Yamaki and John Wat are wrapped, mummy-like, in a long piece of black stretch fabric with only their heads and feet showing. They unravel away from each other, pulling, then return close and tight, bending forward and backward as one. They move slowly with small shuffling steps. Just when it seems endless, you become hooked: Will they ever unravel all the way? What's underneath the fabric? Suddenly, only once, there is a flash of bare leg.

Bluewater Dance Company has the potential to be excellent. The dancers are certainly committed and Yamaki's energy level is enviable. May they be inspired to hone their skills so that audiences get swept away.

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