Friday, 11 April 2014

Karoshi:Bringing 'Death by Overwork' to Life...

When I lived in Vancouver, many moons ago,  I worked for The Georgia Straight (Vancouver's weekly entertainment paper) at a time when guest lists and free tickets to various things were still very much a perk of the job. 

Because of this I was able to attend some really wonderful events, and also to broaden my cultural horizons, trying things I might not normally have done had I had to pay for the privilege of doing so. One of the new things I was turned on to during this time period was modern dance. I was lucky enough to see 'La-la-la Human Steps' perform at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and that was it.  The physicality of their movement, and the emotional charge that was created by it, introduced me to a new art form and I have been hooked ever since.

Tonight, another (last minute) set of free tickets found me at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, at a performance of 'Karoshi', by a Vancouver dance company led by Shay Kuebler, choreographer/director and performer of the work.

Karoshi is a Japanese word meaning, quite literally, 'death by overwork'. The piece examines this cultural phenomenon - completely unique to Japan - whereby death is caused from illness, stroke or heart attack brought on by extreme working conditions (giving new meaning to the term 24/7) or from suicide brought on by depression caused by overwork. "What I found was the necessity to speak about the conflict between societal need and human need as well as the conflict of traditional and modern values" says Kuebler, of his creation.

The performance mixes martial arts, modern dance, physical movement, music, sound, lighting and Budo drumming to create a piece that is both provocative and evocative, sad and funny, emotionally charged and cathartic. Even better, after the performance the company came out to talk to the audience and answer questions about the piece; it is always wonderful to be able to peek behind the scenes of creation. 

Well done RCA, for bringing Karoshi to Kelowna. It really was quite wonderful. 


PS: After the opening sequence of this performance, I swear that I will never interact with my computer in quite the same way again. ;-)

Rotary Centre for the Arts: 421 Cawston Ave, Kelowna, V1Y 6Z1. Ph: (250) 717-5304.