BERINGIA, THE ROOT OF ASIAN
nytheatre.com review by Gregg Bellon
I’m not what you’d call a dance fan, but I completely loved Beringia,
the Root of Asian, essentially an allegorical tale about Asian
pedigree, the perseverance of love, and its power to heal and complete
the cycle of life. According to the program (my nominee for Most
Valuable Program at FringeNYC), director-choreographer Masaru Inayoshi
and RAKUDO Dance Company have created a new style of musical, the
new-age musical made in Asia, a fusion of dance, narrative, song, and
cultural history. In spite of my preconceived apprehensions about many
of these concepts (dance, new-age, scene titles like "the wilderness of
the death"), I found myself completely engrossed in a journey
transcending narrative, language, or medium. Fourteen dancers—athletic,
talented, and loving every minute—run and jump and tumble and fight for
almost all 80 minutes. The story is there somewhere, gleaned in large
part through some study of the aforementioned invaluable program and
from the few narrative segments. A young girl and boy set out "aimed at
East Land." They cross snow-topped mountains, fertile lands, and "the
bridge of the land," only to come across a warrior tribe that attacks
and separates them.
August 15, 2002
Masaru weaves a thumping, techno-new age fusion soundtrack into his own dance fusion of contemporary jazz, pop, ballet and modern. Scenes transition seamlessly through nuanced lighting changes as the dancers change costumes and re-enter almost quicker than seems possible: tight, tight, tight! "Requiem," a percussion piece where the entire company sits in a crescent shape each playing one of four types of musical instruments, is timely and manifests the dancers’ rhythm and precision even when not dancing.
I must say that Beringia seems slightly indulgent and decadent in its scope and style at times. The finale is too long, a medley of small numbers featuring a handful of dancers taking bows, alternating line-ups, and finally coming together in a grand flourish… that leads into a final company bow… then a redundantly indulgent curtain call. But again, it’s very hard to begrudge performers who have given so much already and want to give you just a little more.