DECAY OF THE ANGEL
Combines Butoh, Ikebana and multimedia in a seamless choreographic work of sculptural transcendence. Collaboration between Japanese and American artists began in 2001;This piece has been workshopped in Japan.

The Annex Theater
April 1– April 11, 2004
Thursday – Saturday 7:30pm
Sunday 2:30 pm & 7:30pm

Set, light, and visual design by:
Christopher Odo
Sound design by: Brett R. Jarvis
Costumes designed by:Yasuko Tomonaga
Video by: Jeff Bush and Hiroshi Onihiro
Contemporary Ikebana photography by:Tadayuki Naitoh
Live piano by: Peter Phillips.


"Decay of the Angel" is a lyrical sculptural transcendence inspired by Butoh. In it, dancer/choreographer Maureen Fleming invents surreal movement poetry, curving her body into shapes of shattering beauty. Loosely based on the myth of Hagoromo, as told in an ancient Japanese play, the piece incorporates contemporary Ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangement) by Japanese artist Gaho Taniguchi, light and visual design by Chris Odo, and film and images by award-winning dance photographer Lois Greenfield. Music by Philip Glass is performed by a live pianist.

This collaboration between Japanese and American artists is an attempt to create a seamless multidisciplinary performance work which blurs the lines of cultural boundaries, pushes the boundaries of expressive potential, and challenges the definition of each art form.

An initial stage of development began with photographer Tadayuki Naitoh, Ikebana artist Gaho Taniguchi and set designer Chris Odo during Maureen Fleming's Japan/US Friendship Commission Fellowship in 2001. A developmental workshop showing was presented at Morishita Studio in Tokyo August 2001 and at the Kyoto Arts Center in 2002. Long-term plans involve a performance at the Setagaya Theater in Tokyo, Japan and a return visit to the Kyoto Arts Center in 2005.

Crossing art forms and cultures, "Decay of the Angel" fuses elements of the Buddha's sutra teaching on the five stages of the decay of heavenly beings with the ancient Japanese tale Hagoromo. This myth tells of a fisherman who discovers the cloth of an angel's wings caught in a branch. When the angel pleads with the fisherman to return the cloth, he agrees, but only if she will perform a celestial dance. Presented in five parts, the performance opens with Fleming suspended at the top of the theater, creating the impression of a colorful mobile that is tumbling and circling downward. Using the idea of the angel and the fisherman being inside the same person, "Decay of the Angel" is a reflection on our loss of wings both personally and as a culture. The piece asks, "what is the celestial dance we must all discover to regain our own wings?"

Maureen Fleming is a resident artist of La MaMa E.T.C.; her past productions there include "Water on the Moon" (1989), "Eros" (1991) and "Sphere" (1993). She brings the discipline of a classicist and the imagination of an iconoclast to her unique style of movement inspired by her studies with Kazuo Ohno, the co-founder of Butoh. Fleming went on to perform with his son, Yoshito Ohno, and to tour internationally with performance artist and choreographer Min Tanaka. Fleming continued her training in the US under the Cecchetti master Margaret Craske. Since 1994, she has conducted annual workshops at N.Y.U. and was recently a guest artist at Juilliard. She has gained international recognition on five continents for her singular form of multimedia performance such venues as Italy's Spoleto Festivals, Japan's Butoh Festival, Mexico's Jose Limon Dance Festival, Iceland's Reykjavik Arts Festival, Columbia's International Danza Contemporanea, France's International Mime Festival and Korea's Seoul Performing Arts Festival, among others.

Born in Japan to American parents, the effects of a severe accident when Fleming was two years old have influenced her approach to movement. The accident left a bone spur and the loss of the disk between her 4th and 5th vertebrae, a condition that would confine most people to a wheelchair. Her distinctive slow-motion style of twisting the body into extreme positions, where the blood builds up and stops, and then slowly untwisting so the blood flows more quickly, creates a kind of cleansing. With a strong belief in the body's regenerative powers, Fleming explores the evolution of her wounds. Her choreography emphasizes aligning the body's spiritual center while using the female body as a symbol for the earth's cycles of regeneration.

Christopher Odo (set, light and visual designer) has designed and performed with Maureen Fleming since 1979. He developed the designs for Fleming's work through numerous video sessions with Jeff Bush from Arc Video and studio showings since 1991. He has collaborated with Fleming both nationally and internationally including Paris, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New York, Rome, Milan and Spoleto as well as in Russia, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia. He has also danced with Min Tanaka, Sachiyo Ito, and Jamie H. J.Guan and has performed in numerous theater productions including the role of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Public Theater, and the original cast of M. Butterfly on Broadway and the National Tour.

Gaho Taniguchi (contemporary Ikebana artist) was born in Aomori, Japan. In 1970, Taniguchi studied Ikebana flower arrangement under Kasen Yoshimura in the Ryusei school tradition. In 1996, when she received an Asian Cultural Council Fellowship, she stayed in New York and began to be active all over the world. In Japan, she participates in many public cultural events and activities as well as in universities and professional schools. Her major exhibitions are: "Transmigrant Flowers" at Art Forum Yanaka, Tokyo in 1992, "Germinate Worm" at Pusu Gallery, Tokyo in 1997, "Inside - International Exhibition" at Kassel Stoffwechsel, Germany in 1997. She has also become active as a scenographer in her recent work on "Rice Line" of Keiko Takeya Contemporary D.C. at Theater Tram, Tokyo in 2001 among others.
Set, light, and visual design are by Christopher Odo. Sound design is by Brett R. Jarvis; costumes are designed by Yasuko Tomonaga; video is by Jeff Bush and Hiroshi Onihiro; contemporary Ikebana photography is by Tadayuki Naitoh and live piano is by Peter Phillips.

2004 page