Ebb and flow

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  December 17, 2007

Bunraku in Boston
Boston hasn’t had a chance to see bunraku in more than 20 years, so the National Puppet Theater of Japan’s two performances in October, sponsored by the Japan Society of Boston at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, were a treat for the fortunate few who could get tickets. There was a short play about a heroine who pulls herself up an ice-covered ladder, seemingly without assistance from her managers, in order to save her lover by ringing the town fire bell. The longer work presented a woman and her blind husband who did everyday things like sewing and playing the shamisen. The evening included an informative hour-long lecture-demonstration by a narrator, a shamisen player, and a head puppeteer from the company, with translation by Japan Society president Peter Grilli.

Seán Curran Company
At first, Seán Curran’s dance looks like a formal exposition of movement, but after a while you begin to imagine webs of social interactions, relationships, and hidden histories. Curran, who started as a Boston Irish stepdancer, brought his 10-year-old company to the Tsai Center in October under the auspices of the Celebrity Series. The program included pieces set to Leos Janácek’s On an Overgrown Path, Handel arias and recorded criminal confessions, and Thom Yorke’s The Eraser, and though Curran himself doesn’t dance much anymore, he performed the astonishing solo St. Petersburg Waltz (2005), to music from Meredith Monk’s Volcano Songs, suggesting over nine riveting minutes a whole village full of characters, or a single character’s intense inner life.

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