It is impossible to get more than 30 words into a piece about the Japanese dance-maker Saburo Teshigawara without stumbling upon the fact that he once staged a piece of performance art that involved him being buried up to his neck in mud for eight hours. You see, I couldn't resist mentioning it. But I promise not to dredge up the fact that he once did an act that involved stamping on broken glass. Whoops.
Interesting, eye-catching facts such as these give one something solid to cling to in the nebulous cloud of meaning and unmeaning that is Teshigawara's work. As a general rule, it is as well to be wary of choreographers who feel that dance is too restrictive a form, that it inhibits creativity, stifles the body, creates barriers to human expression. Such complaints can sometimes suggest someone whose limited movement vocabulary needs to be supplemented with borrowings from other disciplines that will flesh out their weedy dance ideas. But sometimes these magpie instincts arise from a genuine desire to expand the performance horizons.
Saburo Teshigawara certainly practises many trades. I was Real - Documents, his latest work which premiered in Frankfurt last year, has its British premiere next week as part of the London International Festival of Theatre. The man himself is responsible for not only the choreography but also the scenography, lighting, costumes and music - a polymathic feat which certainly keeps the salary bill down.
Having studied both sculpture and classical ballet, Teshigawara began performing in 1981. His company, Karas, was founded in 1985 with fellow performer Kei Miyata. During his regular visits to London, he has founded Step (Saburo Teshigawara Education Project) with the support of Lift and The Place Theatre, an initiative which enables young dancers to perform his work. Their latest production, Invisible Room, can be seen at the ICA in London on 27 June. Critical views of his previous presentations have ranged from a "profoundly tiresome evening in which the idiosyncratic and the arcane pretend to relevance" to "baffling, brutal, intriguing, bombastic, stunning and exhausting by turns". Either way, it promises to be more fun than eight hours up to your neck in mud.Reuse content