Toshiki Okada. Photo © Kikuko Usuyama

Portrait of a House. Valeska-Gert-Gastprofessur Toshiki Okada

Filmic Presentation

In Portrait of a House a small group of students from the MA in Dance Studies of the Freie Universität Berlin revisit a piece created in 2019 at the Münchner Kammerspiele by Toshiki Okada.

The Play deals with the coexistence of four members of a family, huddled around their home, in a direct echo to the current situation. Choho, the 80-year-old patriarch, with his two children Homare and Richigi, both unemployed, in their fifties and living on his pension. The family seems to have found a semblance of harmony over time and Deme, the vacuum cleaner, seems to have had something to do with it. Hide, finally, a former workmate of Richigi, will somehow disrupt the balance.

The house, which brings the characters together as much as it tears them apart, delimit the boundaries of their trajectories. And yet, at the very heart of this stifling family atmosphere, they all, and each in their own way, make the walls that hold them back waver. The desire for more, the memory of happy times, the dream of a way out: different detours the characters seem to take in the realm of imagination.

The students present here the fruit of a research begun with Toshiki Okada on the workings of imagination. Through a fundamental deconstruction of the original play, in which the scenes have been reworked and rearranged, a new, open work has gradually been constructed, in which imagination takes centre stage.

The very themes of the piece resonate with the method studied within the group, concerning the choreographic power of imagination: What happens when this mysterious faculty takes precedence over the text and carries the dancers beyond the boundaries of words? What can be the fruits of the encounter, overlap and tension between the concrete space of the stage and the imaginary spaces opened up by the performers?

Given the current circumstances, the format of the performance had to be altered to become a filmed performance. Nevertheless, it provides a new visual experience, where a disconcerting point of view will infiltrate the strange intimacy of this staggering family.

(Toshiki Okada, 2021)

In cooperation with the Freie Universität Berlin and the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).

In an open revision of Toshiki Okada's piece The Vacuum Cleaner, the Dance Studies students of the Freie Universität Berlin present the fruits of their research on the choreographic power of imagination. Online from 19 Feb 2021.

Further information

Valeska Gert Guest Professorship