Un Yamada portrays the timeless & space-defying nature of human stories with a kinetic performance of hope in this dance-theatre hybrid.
From the 20th to the 22nd of October, Pentas 1, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) will be hosting People Without Seasons, brought to stage by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur & ASWARA (Akademi Seni dan Warisan Negara). Un Yamada’s work has been described by Koichi Horikawa, the director of Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur as ‘sensitive, energetic and dynamic. Drawing inspiration from everyday gestures and actions’. People Without Seasons is a quintessential embodiment of that, as the piece maneuvers through a shanty town to tell the stories of every day people.
The play itself is a localized version of Un Yamada’s work which in turn was adapted from Shugoro Yamamoto‘s book A City Without Seasons (1962). There was also cinematic adaptation of the book, namely Dodes’ka-den by Akira Kurosawa. Un Yamada transforms an omnibus of World War 2 stories into living and breathing tales, through the usage of intriguing choreography, costume and set design – perfected by the talent of costume designer RYOTAMURAKAMI & Hiroshi Fuji.
Fauzi Amirudin & Jabar Laura are skillfull dancers from ASWARA with their own form of attachment to the piece as they performed at a different version of City Without Seasons in Japan earlier this year. They will dance along a troupe of Japanese dancers, as well. Fauzi recounts the countless things he’s learned from working with Un Yamada and the Japanese dancers. Since he was involved in the first version, Fauzi states even though it is a localization of City Without Seasons, People Without Seasons is vastly different. “City was very ‘Tokyo’, which means it was more narrow and small to me, but People taps more into my childhood – about how I grew throughout all the seasons of my life”.
A combination of Asian madness and Tokyo fastness – Janet Pillai
Jabar Laura‘s journey is more of a roller coaster. He’s always expressed deep interest in Un Yamada’s artistry. “Around 2016 she came to Malaysia and held open auditions for one piece. I went and didn’t make it *laughs*. I told myself it’s okay I did my best, because as a dancer I know each choreographer has an image for their piece, so I respect who she selected. But this year, I was told that Un Yamada wants me for a play. I thought that was very interesting because she remembered me from 2016! It shows that she knows what she wants for her productions”. Jabar also finds a piece of his heart in People Without Seasons because it reminds him of his hometown back in Kg. Pituru Kinarut, Sabah. He even took Un Yamada to see his village, to which inspires some of the look
Dramatist Janet Pillai is also performing in People Without Seasons and believes there’s a lot to take away from the performance, for practitioners and everyday audiences. “For Malaysians it would be a really different view of dance. Goes against the normal consideration of patterns and notions of dance. There’s also so much of everyday movement and daily patterns. It’s actually very accessible. A combination of Asian madness and Tokyo fastness. So many interesting dancing compositions to keep you riveted as the little stories are told”.
There is so much to appreciate in this production but the center of it all is still the evocation of memory and relatability. That there is a story for everyone. Un Yamada talks about the universality of these stories by inviting us to look back at the original book by Yamamoto. “The book has many stories about a poor village. But behind the stories, are the emotions and the memories of the people, so I always use what’s behind the story – especially the element of season. I changed it from City without Seasons to People Without Seasons because here [in Malaysia] there are no seasons, unlike in Japan. It’s a different way of looking at seasons, not through the place, but the people”.
Featured image is by Naoshi Hatori. Find out more about the performance and buy tickets at this website!