Contributed by Tom O’Connor (Pagoda ji-utai member)
The dance, the music, the poetry. Why do I find this short selection so immensely absorbing…? I can’t point to anything that is there. Each element is somehow incomplete on its own. Even together, there remains a space, an emptiness. I step into that emptiness when I listen and watch.
The poetry. The music. And the knife-like precision of Kinue’s dance, cutting through the fog in my brain.
Pagoda is rooted in the story of the author’s grandmother who sent her son away to sea when he was a young boy to avoid the famine that ravaged China’s rural coastline areas in the 1920s. He never returned. After his death in London in the 1970s, Ms. Cheong herself made the journey to China to find her father’s birthplace. Her family’s experiences, at once both tragic and uplifting, are combined with an ancient Chinese legend about a pagoda to form the basis of this piece.
(Video and initial edit courtesy Oshima Nohgakudo, titling/subtitling courtesy Tom O’Connor. Text © 2011 Jannette Cheong, Music © 2011 Richard Emmert. Published 2011. All Rights Reserved.)