A proscenium stage centres a massive black cube. Illuminated by a spotlight, Ruri Mito, the Japanese female choreographer and dancer of Matou, reveals herself upside down by hiding all her other body parts behind her spine, alone at the centre of the cube. Raw-boned Mito is wrapped in a nude coloured leotard, with the back cut away so that even an audience sitting in the middle of a thousand-seat auditorium could see the fine lines of a muscle, or a bone. The 20-minute solo silently kicks off with this almost non-human sculpture.
Stilled for a minute, Mito slowly and naturally tilts herself into another unnatural state, lies on the cube, dying and vulnerable. Disturbed by high-frequency noise, perhaps from a chain of colliding keys or rusted water pipes, her spine is twisted and rolled by an energy from her abdomen, limbs and trunk are pushed to follow, then tangle with each other. In this confined space, the energy fails to find its escape, instead circulates within and penetrates her, from the tip of one finger to the far end of her body. She hides her face – or alternatively, her face is hidden by other body parts or by her thick, black, punkish hair. She passively moves, searching for a natural position to contain the energy, but ends up displaying herself from one unnatural position to another. A few times she unfolds herself into a geometric shape, but quickly becomes folded again. The solo ends with the strong visual impact of her two lowest rib bones contracting and expanding as she pants.
Mito’s solo is condensed and consistent throughout. Her physicality demonstrates how a human body could be sculptured, which shocks its audience. However, by the middle of the solo, the variations derived no longer seem appealing: the piece goes only so far, and no further. Or is this indulgence a necessary process towards liberation?
Ronnie Lam (Hong Kong) studies Sociology. Since 2016, she has been contributing to dance journal/hk as assistant editor and a writer. She also coordinated two editions of Dance Enhance, a dance criticism and appreciation program organized by the Hong Kong Dance Alliance in 2016 and 2017.