With ever-more dance productions being staged at such mainstream Tokyo venues as Theater Cocoon in Shibuya, Setagaya Public Theater in Sangenjaya and even the New National Theater in Hatsudai, dance has clearly become an integral component of the performance-arts scene here.
Saitama Arts Center, the home base of director Yukio Ninagawa, has also long been a major contributor to the promotion of dance. But previously, Saitama made its mark by hosting first-rate foreign contemporary dance companies — such as in its spring series this year, which featured the Belgian troupes of Jan Fabre and Jan Lauwers and delighted full houses through its run. Now, for the first time, it is branching out further by staging a new dance production, titled “Hydra,” that it created with the Israel-based Inbal Pinto Dance Company. To be performed with 10 of their dancers and Japan’s Shintaro Oue and Kaiji Moriyama, the show was inspired by the fantasy stories of Kenji Miyazawa (for children of all ages).
Why? Well, on the Arts Center’s Web site, Pollak and Pinto explain, “We were particularly inspired by Miyazawa’s masterpiece ‘Ginga Tetsudo no Yoru (Night on the Galactic Railroad)’ and we tried to draw in dance the human relationships and friendships there, especially between the two boys who are the main characters. Miyazawa often takes readers on a journey, and we also want to take the audiences on a journey of fantasy through our creative stage.”
In August, the two Japanese dancers went to workshops for “Hydra” in Tel Aviv, and now autumn is here it will be cool indeed to see what becomes of this second-stage international dance development on the Japanese stage.
“Hydra” runs Nov. 9-11 at Saitama Arts Center, an 8-minute walk from JR Yonohonmachi Station on the Saikyo Line from Shinjuku or Ikebukuro stations. It then plays Nov. 14 at Aichi Arts Center in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture (tel.  972-0430). For more details, call Saitama Arts Foundation on (048) 858-5511 or visit www.saf.or.jp.
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