Sunday, February 17, 2002

Sumida River Dance Company (Cleveland Public Theatre)

Cleveland Public Theatre's exciting dance program continues with Sumida River

Cleveland Public Theatre has become one of the most exciting entertainment settings in the area. Under the guidance of Artistic Director James Levin and Producing Director Randy Rollison the theatre is not only almost single handled reviving the Detroit Avenue and West 65th Street area, but it is giving the community exciting theatre, dance and entertainment. After completing its most expansive project, the refurbishing of the Gordon Street Theatre, there is no telling where this group will venture next. They have entered Lorain County with its ELYRIA-Y PROGRAM which focuses on spoken words as a means of expression through weekly classes.

With the demise of the Cleveland San Jose Ballet only sporadic dance programs are available to the community. CPT stepped in with their DANCEWORKS 02 which allows audiences to examine tap, hip hop, contemporary, modern and international dance. Much appreciation to the staff, and in particular Jeff Syroney, co-producer of the DANCEWORKS 02, for making a major contribution to the local entertainment scene.

SUMIDA RIVER offers a different view of dance than is usually experienced by local audiences. The program is based on a 15th century Noh Japanese play, SUMIDAGAWA, which tells the story of the tragedy of a mother who has lost her child, and the difficult inner journey of the woman.

Denise Fujiwara, the sole dancer, was in total control of her body during the program. Every movement, every facial expression, every gesture was a well thought out vehicle for conveying meaning.

This was not a program for everyone. The Japanese are noted for their ability to very slowly and meticulously develop a concept. The Fujiwara Dance Inventions style follows that prolonged movement concept. This is definitely not contemporary in your-face dance. It is slow, almost ponderous. A viewer must accept the almost mesmerizing small, intricate movements or the experience can be tortuous. The style does have its following. One audience member had driven here from Pittsburgh specifically to see the performance he had previously experienced in Toronto. A Fujiwara Dance Inventions’ groupie!