Dancer Christopher Barksdale. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancer Christopher Barksdale. Photographer Steve Wilson.

Choreography: William Whitener
Music: Toru Takemitsu

Haven, an impressionistic dance, is the result of a collaboration involving choreographer William Whitener, textile artist Jason Pollen, lighting designer Kirk Bookman, and costume designer Lisa Harper. The atmospheric music was composed by one of Japan’s leading composers, Toru Takemitsu.

Whitener has blended classical pointe work with contemporary and everyday movement to express a spectrum of human emotion…from agitation to tranquility and from darkness and despair to hope and beauty. Amidst a setting of rubber and fiber hangings, the choreography responds to Takemitsu’s music, which includes scores written for the Japanese movies Rikyu and Banished Orin. The piece begins with a hymn-like meditation and then changes to placements of sounds that create a layered effect with the use of Japanese instruments. Whitener’s fascination with the Asian culture began with his travels to Japan both as a performer and director.

Pollen, who has a professional dance background, sees shi rubber and nylon piles stage compositions as choreographed surfaces, responsive to Takemitsu’s music and Whitener’s dance patterns. His work is inspired by his spiritual and cultural link to the Tibetan Buddhist community.

Takemitsu, a self-taught composer, wrote his music in the Western tradition while maintaining fundamental Japanese identity. He learned much from the order of nature and he music of Claude Debussy and Duke Ellington.

World Premiere: February 20, 2003, Kansas City Ballet, Lyric Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri

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