The mysterious East is a cliche, but mystery is undeniably a component of dancer-choreographer Yin Mei's evening-length /Asunder, a piece for four accompanied by Robert Een's score played live. Mei, based in New York, was born in China, performed as a principal dancer with the Hong Kong Dance Company, and came to this country in 1985. Much of the piece revolves around ways to conceal oneself--with fans, capes, even a French horn--and the effect that concealment has on a potential or actual lover. But the piece is mysterious in a larger sense too, telling a long, involved, sometimes incomprehensible story. Artist Cai Guo-Qiang designed the set, which includes a plastic wading pool with live fish in it, a huge piece of cloth that doubles as ceremonial rug and robe, and platforms and arched doorways that suggest the hierarchies of palace life. The dancers pair up in various combinations or perform solo; some of the dancing, especially in the duets, is highly evocative, as when Mei and Indonesian performer Miroto wind their arms and hands together, the man's arms encircling the woman, or when the woman in the Western couple balances on various fulcrums of the man's body--back, hip, thigh--swinging around them like a gymnast on a piece of equipment. At other times the choreography is repetitive, seeming to make time for us to take in the luscious if esoteric images. The piece ends with a voice-over about blindness (not very comprehensible on tape), and press materials advise that Mei's struggle with the periodic loss of vision in one eye has given her "a new clarity of inner vision." Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300. Opens Thursday, March 7, 8 PM. Through March 9: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $20. Note: Dancers Yin Mei and Miroto will participate in a panel discussion with journalist Ted Shen moderated by performance artist Jeff Abell on Sunday, March 3, at 2 PM at the Dance Center. Free, but call for reservations at 312-344-8341. Mei will also conduct a master class Saturday, May 9, from 1 to 3 PM at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Charles Martin.