The multidisciplinary dance artist Hiroaki Umeda, who first visited the PuSh Festival in 2009, is back this year at The Dance Centre (our partners on the show) with two new works that combine light, sound, and movement in stunning and visceral ways.
As Umeda said last night in a talkback after the show, his goal is to transmit sensation rather than meaning to his audience. In Haptic, the first piece on the program, that means bathing the stage in a succession of primary colours as Umeda slowly moves his body--in a succession of rippling waves and jerky spasms depending on the pulsating music--from upstage left to centre stage. In Holistic Strata, Umeda's body is dotted in particles of light, the floor and backdrop awash in a sea of black and white that resembles the snow on a television screen, or the swirl of stars colliding in a magnified galaxy. With the aid of sensors, and in tune with the electronic score, Umeda moves back and forth in a version of popping and locking, the projections often moving with or in counterpoint to him, creating a vertiginous, disorienting effect, much like we're falling down a strobe-lit black hole.
A DJ of visual, acoustic, and kinespheric space, Umeda's work defies easy description. Instead, it needs to be experienced.