Meryl Tankard and TaikOz
Kaidan: A Ghost Story
Kaidan, the performance is a multi-sensory and sublime experience. Should your imagination think in terms of muscular warriors playing haunting drums, giant butterfly wings and albino geisha dolls then this interpretation of an old translated Japanese tale will not surprise.
For those of us whose subconscious does not hold such a rich and multi-layered palette Kaidan will take you into a seasonal dreamscape that is mesmerising. Virtually every media element in this piece could stand alone:
• Meryl Tankard has – in collaboration with her dancers – has choreographed a remarkable work with her signature suspension-of-dancer adding a hypnotic aerial dimension
• Ian Cleworth’s musical direction – in collaboration with Shakuhachi grand master Riley Lee and the warrior-like TaikOz musicians, plus pre-recorded music by Timothy Constable – ensures a dreamlike soundscape for our ears
• ‘Illuminations’ by Régis Lansac takes in almost all photo-media; from video to montage rushes to translucent stills … Lansac’s beautiful contributions illuminated further by lighting designer Trudy Dalgleish.
As audience we marvel. One moment we are mesmerised by the play of light on a muscular back as a TaikOz ‘warrior’ beats a huge Japanese drum. We shift our focus to find a giant set of semi-opaque wings spreading like a fan and hovering with balletic grace from a corner (the elegant legs of dancer Jan Pinkerton attached!).
Bands of fire turn to streams, bubbling water shimmers with golden and red fish, a banshee figure swathed in gauze sweeps out across the stage …
Kaidan: A Ghost Story is based on a Japanese ghost story Of a Mirror and a Bell from Irish author Lafcadio Heam’s classic collection of translations Kwaidan. Sarah-Jayne Howard, my beautiful albino doll/banraku puppet dances the central role of a woman whose life disintegrates when she gives away her looking glass, which she believes to be a projection of her soul, to be melted down and used to cast a village bell. From icy marionette to an avenging spirit set free Howard’s performance – like all that fills the stage – is remarkable.
Kaidan: A Ghost Story
Until Wednesday, 31 January
Sydney Opera House
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