Arts: Dance: Noisy urban chaos

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The Independent Culture
"CITIES ON the Move", the Hayward Gallery's exhibition of East Asian art, has left me with an impression mostly of anxiety and desolation. Its subtitle is "Urban Chaos and Global Change", and the high-rise city skylines imprinted on the walls appear to press in from all sides, their growth spiralling out of human control. A giant dragon, constructed out of bicycle inner tubes and decorated with toy cars, frighteningly suggests that soon all bicycles in China will be replaced by cars. A display case of elephant dung shaped into judges' wigs speaks of political cynicism. And in the basement you can visit a vigorous and thriving underworld where prostitution and perversion thrive, where a photographed young man is pulling down his trousers to shoot up in his groin, and where miniature angels hanging overhead can do nothing more than emit useless twitters and cackles.

In this context, the contribution of Saburo Teshigawara over two evenings seemed apt. He is a sculptor as well as a popular choreographer and dancer, and his stage sets and performances with his company, Karas, communicate urban anguish and technological paranoia. Triad, a 40-minute collaboration with two other performers, was his response to "Cities on the Move"; for this he annexed the exhibition's "Everything for pounds 1" site, a global shrine to shopping which is filled with cheap plastic goods.

First came a woman dancer from Karas Kei Miyata whose slow and boneless waves of movement, as if floating in water, were a warm-up to the Teshigawara dance style. It was also relatively innocuous, given the physical extremism of Teshigawara, a man who on his first London visit smashed a heap of glass underfoot. True to form, his body here appeared convulsed by jolts, limbs flailing, every possible joint contorted. At other points, he twitched like an electrocuted rabbit frying on a charged floor, or battled against an invisible force. His mouth opened in a silent howl or scream of fury, or became a baby's mouth sucking a thumb. Maybe this was the whole life that streams past your mind's eye before dying, of maybe it represented just an ordinary day in the Teshigawara diary.

Meanwhile, a small video screen played a tape of soldiers at war and exploding targets. Elsewhere, another man sat impassively at a table operating a computer. He was Masami Akita, founder of the Japanese group Merzbow. They are described as noise terrorists, and you could hear why. Infernal pulsating, industrial rumbles and rhythmic crashes assaulted the air with deafening contrapuntal layers, spurts of static shot out like laser missiles.

Sometimes Teshigawara would spit, a visceral statement which had me tempted to do the same. After all, there is only so much a girl can take and, 20 minutes into the piece, the noise and twitches began to pall. Was he offering a defining experience or was he overreaching self-belief? I'm not sure.