In Shinjuku yesterday for a few bits and pieces. Being autumn the weather is ideal: cool without any chill to the air, dry, crisp and generally invigorating. The sky is bluest blue and at night the sharp diamond stars are something to behold.
The main street, Shinjuku Boulevard, is closed to traffic on Sundays and so the whole of central Shinjuku becomes a big free for all walkway. In spite of everyone being out for relaxation and a good time, in typical party-pooper Japanese fashion there is a by-law, advertised on signboards placed on the street here and there, that public entertainment is forbidden. It doesn’t stop the buskers, home-art sellers, magicians, and whoever else from setting up anyway. However the police do do the rounds and clamp down every hour or two. I captured on camera the heavy hand coming down on this poor guy. He was an American one-man band singing ‘The answer is blowing in the wind’ to a rapt crowd encircling him when the men in blue threw a wet blanket over it all. I gave him my spare change and a few words of encouragement, and what was left of the crowd gave him a round of extra applause.
A little further down was a woman who I’d seen about 15 minutes before who at that time had been sitting on the pavement looking very disheveled and down and out: enough to notice. Now she was transformed into a jumping, yowling, flailing whirling dervish to the absolute astonishment, horror, bemusement, amusement – whatever the individual’s take – of the crowd. At one moment she was lost in a private demonic world of contortion and frenzy, while the next she was more the typical (dare I use that word?) street performer running up to people in the crowd and interacting to everyone’s amusement. Easy to write off as crazy, she nevertheless had a properly printed pamphlet that I took as I left.
She is Abe ‘M’ Aria, a spontaneous creative dancer who has been performing on the streets of Tokyo, at music and art events - even in Hungary, Poland and San Francisco, as well as running dance workshops, since 1990. Unfortunately it doesn't seem possible to put streaming video up on this, so I've made a few stills from the minute and a half video I took. They fail miserably at conveying the explosive, frenetic one-woman bedlam that is her dancing, but hopefully give you some idea.
(Click on pix to expand)
Abe 'M' Aria claims to have no particular message for the world. Hers is a "no technique, no meaning, no concept" kind of art. What she says is all in what she dances, right there and right then. She has her Abe M
Aria website (Japanese) where she can be kept track of.
Monday, October 03, 2005