Inspiration from Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece “Slaughterhouse-Five” and stoic philosopher Seneca’s letters gives character to an upcoming performance in Tokyo by Izabela Chlewinska, a rising choreographer and dancer from Poland.
Chlewinska was inspired by the novel’s protagonist, Billy Pilgrim — a time traveler who jumps back and forth in time — and a phrase in the novel: “The dead body is simply someone who’s going through a rough time.”
She says that the performance — titled “Tralfamadoria,” after Vonnegut’s imaginary planet in the novel — is a journey through different ways of dealing with death. Pure and clean white space created by precise stage lighting and the inclusion of a lot of jokes, characterize Chlewinska’s performance. She says Seneca’s letters and Vonnegut’s “jumping in time” lead to the optimistic and funny notion that if one jumps in time, one finds another level — that is, one can live forever. The dancer predicts the audience will see a “celebration of life and a very optimistic point of view,” which should make them laugh and cry.
The structure of “Tralfamadoria” was worked out jointly by Chlewinska and Israeli dancer and choreographer Arkadi Zaides, her choreographic collaborator. She improvised movements and he wrote them down to help clarify her body language. Reflecting what it might be like to jump through time, her movements are unpredictable — from fast to slow, from slow to fast, away from the floor and close to the floor. At one point, Chlewinska even attempts to mimic the Tralfamadorian people who, of course, she has never seen.
“Tralfamadoria” takes place Feb. 11 at Session House in Kagurazaka, Tokyo (5 p.m.). Tickets cost ¥3,000 in advance (¥3,500 at the door and ¥2,500 for students). For more information, call (03) 3266-0461 or visit www.session-house.net.