chelfitsch will return to the Walker three years after their January 2009 presentation of Five Days in March, which was a piece about twenty-somethings shacking up at love hotels at the beginning of the Iraq War. Their work coming to the Walker January 19-21, 2012, is Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speech; originally three separate pieces, chelfitsch director Toshiki Okada combined them into a magnum opus of sorts.
chelfitsch’s singular anti-choreograpy emphasizes the ways we are stuck in our bodies, employing a dance vocabulary of formalized awkwardness and hunched postures that registers its relevance in terms of a contemporary experience of youth. If Robert Longo ever choreographed a piece about twenty-somethings stuck in a Japanese temp agency, it would look something like this.
The characters speak in fragmentary sentences and their movement could be called hyper-pedestrian in the ways ordinariness is magnified and repeated until it becomes its own vernacular. chelfitsch’s parallels with the American film sub-genre/phenomenon of Mumblecore seem striking, as relationships and conversations take precedence over narrative cues. More literally, the company’s name comes from a mumbled, disarticulation of the English word “selfish.”
You can watch snippets of each piece in the video below, made by the Japan Society, with Japan Society Director Yoko Shioya providing some contextualization.
Acclaimed playwright/director of chelfitsch Toshiki Okada will lead an Inside Out There workshop Saturday, January 21 at 11 am. Participants will explore the nature of unconscious physical movements in creating choreography. Open to all levels of movers.
Photos by Toru Yokota