Unmoored and entranced

jodie mcneilly: yumi umiumare, entrance

Yumi Umiumare, Entrance

Yumi Umiumare, EnTrance

Yumi Umiumare, EnTrance

Yumi Umiumare, EnTrance


EnTrance does not merely ask us to observe energetic transformations through word, rhythm, ritual and symbol; it navigates us through hyperbolic worlds that are indeed nothing other than who we are. Emotion, memory, everyday mediations and constructions, life, birth, death, spirit and love: EnTrance brings us home to ourselves.

Umiumare’s opening movement vocabulary is a heavy, slow shuffle; her head is tilted upward, oriented toward something in the distance. She seems to bear a cumbersome weight—a story involving a cat, a dusty window and the loss of her fingertips into a garden with a fountain that explodes with feathers of rich colour. The stage fills with projection, rolling out a bustling metropolis, all reds, yellows and blues. Umiumare absorbs the street rhythms like a blank canvas. We see it on her dress. Her dance is a strange mix of ‘go-go traffic conducting,’ forearms hinged at the elbows creating vectorial variations to wave the world in, and air-like pistons pumping the forces around. This pattern is punctuated by reverse star-jumps, arms straightened like bolts into a horizontal crossbar. Her martial stance complements five, six-foot-high erect masts, sails tethered at the waist. The image is positively nautical. Untethered, single threads fall outward to form a broken surface the width of the stage, a versatile design by installation artist Naomi Ota that metaphorises fragility, malleability and unpredictability.

Bambang Nurcahyadi augments each vignette with large-scale visuals, projecting scenic and urban backdrops and swirling, animated Umiumares, replicated in various guises on the screens. In one scene, the dancer, dressed in a black leather jacket covered with flashing thorns of tiny embedded LEDs (design David Anderson), thrashes about in concert with obnoxiously loud post-punk noise—guitar pedals of assault—and picks up a large LCD screen to use as a face mask. The image is a portrait of her inner Avatar, scratched and irritated by the superfluity of a hyper-existence.

Drifting into a different rhythm, Japanese characters cascade delicately down the threads spilling onto an umbrella held by Umiumare, now looking like a bleached-white Mary Poppins. She weathers the words in patient reprieve. We too wait, soothed, suspended, somewhat transported.

Umiumare tells us that in Japanese there are different names for different tears. Each type, or mode of crying, is named after the sound that the crier makes, an onomatopoeic nomenclature. “Cachuckachuck, cachuckachuck”, the crumpled wail of a woman who has lost her child. Tears like rain soak the cheek. I am reminded of a scene from Michael Haneke’s The Time of The Wolf where a mother weeps inconsolably at the death of her son. Sounds of soaking.

Umiumare emerges like a fake plastic flower to entertain us with a love song, singing off-key. We giggle along with this awkward serenade. When it ends we are plunged deeper into her primordial wail. She transmits something not belonging to her, something more universal; there is deep silence in the sonority of grief.

A bird of paradise, Umiumare engages with the ritual and dress of her traditions. A transcendent phase, almost ecclesiastic, she raises her arms, a stole of red and gold draped symmetrically over her arms. I think of the fountain and the cat that ate her fingertips. All images, words and sounds that formed disparate episodes momentarily speak one language. I am home.

Tangled in threads, Umiumare paints her body white with aggressive brush strokes. This final costume change shatters the coherency of two-dimensional image, each screen torn down by this monster of chaos. She stirs the space. Medusa. Her feet rooted, the base of her tongue driven from pelvic depths, viscera like magma ready to overflow. Her body is gnarled at the joints like an ancient tree still growing. Nothing more present than presence itself. Beneath the hypnotic birdcalls, drums and didgeridoo, the sorceress licks with flickering tongue those fingertips. Her eyes unnaturally wide, each a window open for all to see, each an opaque window reflecting back. Transformation.

For the most part I felt overwhelmed by the excessive mélange of cultural influences, aesthetic choices and movement styles. But by the end, experienced an unmooring of something indescribable, a deeper unitary movement that for me is a rare occurrence in performance. Entranced.

Performance Space, Dimension Crossing: EnTrance, performer, creator Yumi Umiumare, collaborator Moira Finucane, costume designer David Anderson, lighting designer Kerry Ireland, sound designer Ian Kitney, media artist Bambang Nurcahyadi, installation artist Naomi Ota; Performance Space, Carriageworks, Sydney, April 18-21

RealTime issue #109 June-July 2012 pg. 5

© Jodie McNeilly; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

12 June 2012