Australian Dance Reviews

‘Kiku’: An intergenerational dance film by Natsuko Yonezawa

Natsuko Yonezawa's 'Kiku'. Photo by Andrew Sikorski.
Natsuko Yonezawa's 'Kiku'. Photo by Andrew Sikorski.

National Film and Sound Archive,
11 August 2023.

‘Kiku’ translated means ‘listen’ in Japanese and also chrysanthemum. Directed by 23-year-old Japanese-Australian emerging director Natsuko Yonezawa, this short film showcases the stories of six extraordinary women aged over 50, detailing their experience of aging utilizing the power of dance and song and why they dance.

It is beautifully photographed, sometimes using extreme close-up. Yonezawa at times lavishly zooms in on luscious displays of hair, clothing, skin and people’s miens. Inspired by the visuals and imagery of Japanese flower artist Makoto Azuma, Kiku looks at life and movement and what one brings to life once one is slightly older. A major issue is – how does one cope with and the various perceptions of an aging body? And the way becoming older can make one become seemingly invisible. This is contrasted by how aging can be inspiring, not an impediment.

Fingers ripple and undulate, unfold and pulsate. The six dancers are barefoot in casual clothes. We then see angular arms and elbows, followed by sculptural posing. Three of the dancers have short solos which are followed by a rolling of shoulders and a return to facing inward. There is an ensemble hug and fluttering fingers, succeeded by briefly lying on the floor then standing up again. Stretched hands are them emphasized, which lead to arms up while bending and swaying, then hugs in pairs. A younger woman then joins them – hope unfolds?

Rebecca Hilliard has composed an exciting original choral soundtrack, as performed by members of the ANU Chamber and the Luminescence Children’s Choir.

Kiku’s message is one of compassion and understanding toward aging,

By Lynne Lancaster of Dance Informa.

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