A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
今年の夏のロンドンオリンピック・パラリンピックにあわせ、サウスバンク・センターでは、Festival of the World（6月1日〜9月9日）が開催されている。スポーツや芸術が若者の夢や向上心を刺激すると考えた、近代オリンピックの創立者であるピエール・ド・クーベルタン男爵にインスピレーションを得たというこのフェスティバル、芸術は人々の人生を変えられることを証明するのを目的に、アート、音楽、ダンス、詩、文学、コメディなど世界の文化イベントの他、マーケットや「urban beach（人工ビーチ）」など、様々な催しが行われている。明日29日から始まるパラリンピックと同時に、障碍を持つアーティストたちの作品を紹介するイベント「Unlimited（8月30日〜9月9日）」もスタートする予定。
Southbank Centre has been hosting Festival of the World this summer from June 1 to September 9, coinciding with the London 2012 Olympics/Paralympics. The festival is inspired by the founder of the Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin who believed that the arts and sport could raise the aspirations of young people. During the period, Southbank offers a variety of international cultural events such as art, music, dance, poetry, literature, and comedy, as well as markets, urban beach and more to demonstrate how art can transform lives. Corresponding with the start of Paralympic Games tomorrow on August 29, ‘Unlimited‘ (Aug 30–Sep 9) will showcase art and culture commissions by disabled and deaf artists.
“London Earth Creature” is the unique playscape for play & relax, designed and built by eco-build specialists Small Earth.
廃材を使用して大規模作品を創っているロンドンベースのアート集団・Robots>>>>の「Everything Is Beautiful When You Don’t Look Down（下を見なければ全てが美しく見える）」。2011年のFestival of Britainで使用した木材や鉄を再利用している。
“Everything Is Beautiful When You Don’t Look Down” by the London-based arts collective Robots>>>>, who build large sculptures from recycled and reclaimed materials, have made these figures predominantly from wood and steel used at Southbank Centre’s 2011 Festival of Britain.
世界から集められた布地で作られた、15mの高さの「Under the Baobab（バオバブの木の下で） 」は、Pirate Technicsが制作。
15 metres tall “Under the Baobab” is made from stacks of fabric rings using material from around the globe, created by Pirate Technics.
I saw BBC3 documentary “Beckii: Schoolgirl Superstar at 14” today. This program tells the story of 14-year-old Rebecca Flint aka Beckii Cruel, now fifteen, an internet sensation in Japan. Beckii is a schoolgirl from the Isle of Man with only 80,000 habitant. Beckii became famous in Japan after uploading films of herself dancing with Anime song and J-pop on YouTube since 2009. This documentary follows Beckii and her family, and the other British teenage girls who hope to become famous in Japan.
This is another usual program portraying Japan as an eccentric country, though the documentary itself is serious and not makes fun of Japan. There is no cute and innocent low-teen idols such as Beckii, whose fan base is much older adult men. Her Japanese manager said “Lolita in Japan is normal,” but the comment was quite embarrassing. If a middle aged man enjoy watching a very young girl dancing on You Tube or have a collection of his favorite girl’s photography books, like many Japanese Otaku, people think that he is either pervert or paedophile (maybe the same in Japan as well). Also Beckii’s enthusiastic fans give peculiar presents to her such as a big box full of instant Japanese noodles and a base guitar with astronomical postage from Japan.
Beckii’s parents let their daughter do “what she wants”, though they know what kind of people who might like to watch a 14-year-old girl dancing in her bedroom. However, you can sense that they expect some share from their daughter’s success, through their comments and attitudes. Now her father tries to sell her daughter to one of the top producer in UK who took charge of Kylie and Spice girls, to achieve her success in the UK after Japan. Among all these greedy adults, Beckii seems to be the only one who understand the harsh reality – her success may not be long-lived, especially popularity in Japan where a Lolita icon is easily forgotten as she grows old, and studies hard for her GCSE.
The Times Style Magazineに掲載された、日本から「輸入された」ファッション。日本では皆、こんな格好をしてると思われないといいけれど。。。左より、ビジュアル系、芸者ゴス、スィート・ロリータ。
Japanese-inspired fashion (from the Times Style Magazine). Hope no one believes that everyone dresses like these in Japan…From left, Visual Kei, Geisha Goth, and Sweet Lolita.
I have a membership of Virgin Active health club, a part of Richard Branson‘s Virgin Group (see also my past entry about Virgin Media), and I went to Zumba class few times, as the club now has a Zumba class since January this year. It was a quite popular class with lots of people excitedly waiting in the studio – there was no space for an overzealous movement and an wrong step, without hitting someone around you. Participants were mainly young women in 20s, but some older people and few men as well. The class lasts usually 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the class, and you just dance fanatically all the way through with a passionate Latin soundtrack, with very little break. The concept of Zumba is just to have fun with easy-to-learn steps – don’t worry about a mistake. Also you don’t need to look for a partner, like traditional Latin dance, nor to dance with a same sex partner. At the end of the class, I was so exhausted and unable to make a light step, but I felt so good afterwards. DVD is also available, but it is more fun to dance and sweat together with a bubbly instructor and others in the class. Some are addicted to Zumba, and turn up any classes and events across the city. The quality of a class depends on a instructor, so it is better to try out some classes to look for your favorite instructor. If you become a member of Virgin Active, you can use over 70 Virgin Active clubs across the country – so it is worth its little pricier monthly membership fee.
English National Opera（イングリッシュ・ナショナル・オペラ／ENO）で、ヘンデルのメサイア（Messiah）を観た。イエス・キリストの生涯を描いたオラトリオの名作・メサイアは、もともとオペラの楽曲ではないのだが、気鋭の演出家・Deborah Warner（デボラ・ワーナー）によって、現代社会を舞台に、ダンスを取り入れたユニークなオペラ作品に仕上がった。衣装も小物も現代風、時折舞台後方のスクリーンに宗教画が映されたり、キリスト教の儀式に使われる小道具が劇中に出てくる程度で、キリストの物語にも関わらず宗教色は強くない。ティーンエイジャーの妊娠はマリアの処女懐胎、天使が羊飼いにキリスト降誕を告げる場面は、お遊戯会で子供たちがその場面を演じる形に、キリストの磔刑シーンは、若者の喧嘩に変えるなど、原作と繋がりを持たせようとしているが、ちょっと無理があるかも。キリスト教の学校に行っていたので、ある程度の知識はあるのだが、舞台上で起こってることと音楽とどう繋がりがあるのか分からず、後でタイムズ紙のレビューを読んで、ああそういうことだったのかと得心した。
We saw Handel‘s Messiah at the English National Opera (ENO). Messiah was not written for opera, but the director Deborah Warner transforms this oratorio masterpiece into an unique opera work, setting in modern urban life and taking in dance elements. The opera seems to reduce religion to a minimum – costumes and stage sets are modern, except the religious arts occasionally projected on screens and some ceremonial objects used in some scenes. The director tries to make a connection between the original story and this opera, but the attempt unfortunately doesn’t not really work well and quite cheesy: the Virgin Birth becomes teenage pregnancy, the meeting of shepherds and angels is turned into a school nativity play, and Christ’s scourging and Crucifixion translate into a fight among youths. I went to a Protestant school and know a bit about the life of Jesus Christ, but I barely understood the relationship between the music and what was going on on the stage. I figured out the meaning of some scenes after I came back home and read the review by the Times.
The biggest problem for me was the kids in the opera – I know it is not their fault but it was just annoying. A 6 year-old boy was almost always on the stage, walking around, running or sitting down, and it was very distracting. The scene of school play was really irritating as well, except a song by a boy with beautiful clear voice: the kids jumped up and down and the parents took a pictures or filmed with camcorders. It is reported that the opera uses 44 extras other than singers, including dancers. Some people just stand up or lie down – is it really necessary to put useless people on the stage??
However I I like Handel and Baroque music and enjoyed the music a lot: the Handel specialist conductor Laurence Cummings led the orchestra beautifully and voices of the two female soprano and alto singers were truly graceful. The modern and simple stage sets designed by Tom Pye were interesting, such as video footage of modern society (people going up and down on an elevator, or silhouettes of moving cranes) and transparent coffins placed all over the stage at the final part. We got a ticket, original price of £71 for only £10 with Evening Standardpromotion – so it was really worth going. But I would be upset if I paid £71 for the opera…
Confluence(Nov 26 to 28), which was the festival’s climaxes and its world premiere, is a joint creation by Bangladeshi-British dancer/choreographer Akram Khan and Indian British composer Nitin Sawhney, who also previously collaborated inZero Degrees and Bahok. In Confluence, Khan and Sawhney explore their cultural and psychological mix of influences.
I went to see Zero Degrees at the Sadler’s Wells because British Artist Antony Gormley was also involved in the creation, and it was my first experience with Khan’s mesmerizing dance. Khan, also a dancer of Northern Indian classical dance Kathak, showed us his elastic but powerful dance, streaming hand movements, stable high-speed turns, and beautiful steps of Kathak and the sound of the bells worn around his ankles, and these perfectly matched with Sawhney’s beautiful music on its simple stage. The scenes that silhouettes of musicians who were playing behind the screen came to dimly appear through the thin screen was pretty mysterious. It was a stunning performance which mixed classical Indian dance / contemporary dance and traditional music / modern music, and excited the audiences. I wish the performance was a bit longer (it was only 1 hour and 15 min)!
そしてお待ちかねの、宮島氏がステージデザインを担当したLimen（ライメン）。Limenは心理学用語で「閾（いき）」、「ある刺激の出現・消失、または二つの同種刺激間の違いが感じられるか感じられないかの境目。また、その境目の刺激の強さ」を意味する。フィンランド人作曲家Kaija Saariaho（カイヤ・サーリアホ）氏が作曲、振り付けは、映画「Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire（ハリー・ポッターと炎のゴブレット）」も担当したロイヤル・バレエ団の振付師Wayne McGregor（ウェイン・マクレガー）が手がけた。幕開けは、LEDデジタルカウンターを投影した半透明のスクリーンの後ろでダンサーたちが踊るシーン。刻々と変わる数字が動きを変えながらスクリーンに浮き上がる中、ダンサーたちの姿がぼんやりと浮かぶ様は、とても幻想的。そしてスクリーンが上がり、明るくなった舞台の上で、カラフルな衣装に身を包んだダンサーたちが舞い踊る。再び明かりが落とされると、次に違った色の光の帯が暗い舞台に投影される。踊りよりも、ダンサー達の影が光の帯の上に落ちる様に、つい目がいってしまう。最後は、暗闇の中、バックの壁に、青いLEDライトが、違う間隔でついたり消えたりする。だんだん点灯するLEDライトが増えていき、壁が徐々に舞台前に迫って来たところで、フィナーレを迎える。
I went to see a ballet at l Opera House for the first time in my life. I like dance, and have been to modern dance, Flamenco, Belly Dance, Indian dance etc, but I’ve never been really keen to see a ballet – one reason was that I prefer more energetic and exciting movement than elegant ballet, and another reason was that I just can’t stand the tights of male ballet dancers, even on their beautiful toned bodies. The reason why I went to see the ballet is because Japanese visual artist Tatsuo Miyajima designed the stage of one of the program.
What I saw is the Royal Ballet triple bill “Agon / Sphinx / Limen” – all short contemporary ballet programs less than 30 minutes each. I am completely novice in ballet, so I won’t make any comment on the ballet dance itself, but a little explanation of the programs.
Then Limen, which was designed by Miyajima and what I was looking for. Limen, a word that relates to ideas of limits and thresholds, is the work by Wayne McGregor , the Company’s Resident Choreographer who also choreographed the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, with music by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. The first scene is the dancers moving behind a half-transparent screen on which tumbling and spinning digital numbers are projected – it was very mysterious and dreamlike. Then the screen rises dancers in electric color costumes come on the stage with slowing changing colors. In the third scene, the light is turned down, and five different color stripes appear on the dark stage. My eyes were caught more by the shadows of the dancers casted on the stripes, rather than dancers themselves. Final act is performed in front of a giant wall of blue LED lights flashing on and off at different intervals, and the wall slowly approaches to the front of the stage as the number of LED increases little by little – and over.
To be honest I don’t have a strong impression about the ballet performance the night, though I admit that the dance was graceful and elegant. Maybe because I bought cheap seats on the upper balcony with restricted views – as my intention was to see the stage design of Limen by Miyajima. I also failed to change my negative view against male tight costumes! It is said that this is the first experience for Miyajima to design a theater stage, but his minimalist approach with superb use of different colors and light and darkness was pretty effective and it was like a beautiful art installation. I am glad that I went!