If you haven’t yet heard the name Yuki Hasegawa, remember it, because hopefully so, it is likely that we will continue seeing her work being presented throughout NYC. Azul Dance Theatre, her own company which she has been nurturing since 2004, is tearing up the scene with their impressive athleticism and performance quality.
On April 6th, Green Space presented Take Root with Azul Dance Theatre performing Silver Quantum, having had its first premier last year, and premiering Masquerade for the first time. The evening began with the former, as dancers took charge of the space with soft fluidity where we really got to see Yuki’s choreographic strength; fluidity in transitions and beautiful contemporary partner work.
A production of enthusiasm and magnificence with eight dancers, Silver Quantum, is a 3D picture blending spontaneous energy flow and blasts of illusions. It is Azul’s most recent production featuring Yuki’s synthesis of Japanese avant-garde and American contemporary dance.
Although continuous, it was never predictable as there were moments when the music changed the tone, sending the dancers in frantic hand gestures. Instead of imposing a clear meaning onto the audience, much of this work is left to interpretation making it easy for any audience member to feel connected. The movement in Silver Quantum asks questions instead of trying to deliver answers.
Most of the time I spent wondering, what’s inside the box? The majority of the evening’s focus was on the mysterious Masquerade, which began in ominous silence as a dancer carried a box across the stage before disappearing into the darkness. The elements were all in place to create an environment as the black and red costumes, dim lighting, and dynamic and almost primal choreography with the oriental music made me feel like I had travelled to another country.
Sultry, emotional, and raw energy was spurred as there were bouts of solos and duets around the box leading up to a bigger presentation. As it kept reappearing and sometimes very quickly disappearing, the suspension was building until eventually, it made its way into the hands of audience members, but of course, just to hold, not to open it. As the costumes became more colourful and elaborate, the movement became less emotional and more jazzy and more masks were making their way to the dancers’ faces.
What’s the big mystery behind Masquarade? We all wondered as a flower was finally revealed from the box. According to Yuki, greed sometimes disturb life’s true desire and blinds our minds. Utilizing a treasure box as a key element, Masquerade conveys how ironic human behaviors disrupt how we achieve our most secret desire.
I was performing at the major musical theatre in Tokyo for seven years as a professional dancer and actress after I graduated from Kobe College in Japan.
I came to NY in 1998 to study at NYU and graduated with an MA in Dance and Dance Education. During the course of NYU, I studied “Choreography” and “Dance Composition,” with Renata Celichowska and Carl Paris. I just fell in love with creating a dance choreography.
I named my company as “Azul Dance Theatre,” as I liked the colour of Ocean, Sky, and Earth, (“Azul” means Blue in Spanish. In Japanese Blue is “ A-O,” and it did not sound so pretty.) and I choreographed and performed with my two best friends the first dance piece which synthesizing Japanese Traditional Dance and Contemporary Jazz Dance in 2004.
Since then I have kept choreographing and presenting my dance works in NYC. However, I stopped performing by myself, as I injured my left knee, but it is better for me, as I can see the whole picture of my dance objectively.
My most exciting experience was presenting my work, “Vision” at Tribeca Performing Arts in 2016 with the support from CUNY Dance Initiative Residency Program. I created the piece for the nine dancers with Japanese traditional Noh (traditional performing Arts) masks, and also utilizing a film projection (collaborated with Miskos Production) in my dance.
I also had the great experiences with the Fashion event, “Style Pointe” at Dixon Place (produced by Sangeeta Yesley,) in 2016 & 2017 during the NY fashion show week, collaborating with the fashion designers to create the dance works.
During the past few years, in my choreography, I have focused on conveying energy flow (known as “chi”) through dance movements:
therefore, you will see lots of fluidity and sequential body motions in my dance. I also create the dance, as if I draw the picture on the 3D campus. All the movements and dancers’ body shapes are visualizing in the 3D images in my mind while I am creating a dance. I create the dance based on substantial themes which can be related to the people of various cultural, political, and religious background. My goal is to express “the meaning of the life,” (being as a human in this moment on the earth,) in my dance work.