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Review: Tyler, Tyler by Yasuko Yokoshi at Diverseworks

I’ll give one thumb up & one thumb down to Tyler, Tyler at Diverseworks tonight. Suffice it to say that my night of interculture espionage was weighed down with heavy swishy denim and hipster karaoke on a toy piano.

Don’t get me wrong. Yasuko Yokoshi meant well. She tried to take a traditional form of Japanese dance/narrative and ‘splice’ it with po-mo Americana. The Kabuki dancers were brilliant, particularly Kuniya Sawamura. With gestures so minuscule, so light – I was transfixed. It was like watching someone with exquisite table manners – the dancing was natural and unreal all at once. When Sawamura was onstage with American dancer Kayvon Pourazar, things definitely clicked. Both dancers translating each other like shadows.

But. And this is a big ‘but.’ The aforementioned performances stood in high contrast to the murky, dense and sometimes downright irritating mess of  other “translations.’ A super annoying guitarist croons traditional Japanese songs, then sings Cat Power.  Why oh why oh why did they use this guy?  An American girl quotes lines from a traditional Japanese epic falling so flat I was physically uncomfortable listening to it.  Both “eastern” and “western” became so grossly polarized–a gun on one hand, a fan on the other–I was weary with the minuteness of certain gestures and the sledgehammer of their corresponding concepts. And weary I am. So weary I’m not writing anymore about it. I’m glad I saw it. I”m glad Diverseworks brings things like this to Houston. But one thumb remains firmly down.

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