Stay warm this winter with some hot local events, from retro anime screenings to bilingual robot plays to a J-pop infused Lunar New Year spectacular.
This month’s highlights include:
Friday, Feb. 1, 7:00 p.m.
Project A-ko Movie Night
Resobox Gallery, 41-26 27th Street, Long Island City
First released in America 20 years ago, Project A-ko is fondly remembered as an anime classic up there with Akira and Bubblegum Crisis as something new and unique for its era. In Graviton City, superhuman high school student A-ko Magami dukes it out with the diabolical genius B-ko Daitokuji, who will stop at nothing to win the friendship of A-ko’s buddy C-ko Kotobuki. Meanwhile, in outer space, another alien ship is on course towards Earth to find its planet’s lost princess. Full of parody, action, comedy, ’80s animation, and a madcap plotline, it’s time to rediscover this cult classic, presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
Saturday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
NIPPON-JIN Book Launch Event
J-Salon 9, 319 East 9th Street
Presented by J-COLLABO, a unique social network that promotes the Japanese art scene with various collaborating artists, NIPPON-JIN (meaning “Japanese”), will be on view at the gallery of the Consulate General of Japan from Feb. 1-15. Showcasing more than 300 unique portrait photographs taken by Junichi Takahashi, NIPPON-JIN reveals what Takahashi sees as “Japanese people,” opposed to the prototype of stereotypical “Japanese” that others expect and portray. To capture the essence of what makes Japanese “Japanese,” Takahashi decided to approach this project by taking hundreds of samples over a four-year period of Japanese being themselves, letting the accumulation of the subject matter form the answer. The exhibition will go to the gallery of Narita International Airport in Japan this summer.
Sunday, Feb. 3, 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Salon Series No. 44. Gestures, Mime and Dance
Tenri Cultural Institute, 43A West 13th Street
$15 general, $10 students/seniors
Now in its fifteenth year, the 45th performance of Sachiyo Ito & Company’s Salon Series is titled “Gestures in Japanese Dance and Mime.” From noh theater to today’s baseball heroes, the Japanese have tended to use more gestures than other peoples, particularly compared to those in the west, and in much subtle manner. Why and how we use them in daily life and see any of those are reflected in dance. Featuring guest Yass Hakoshima (who led Yass Hakoshima Movement Theater for 40 years in the USA and Europe), live demonstrations will illustrate how a mime draws gestures from daily life as a comparison and to gain further insight. Excerpts from kabuki dances choreographed by Ito as well as Hakoshima’s ever-popular comic piece, “Fisherman,” will be performed.
Feb. 7-9, 7:30 p.m.
Seinendan Theater Company + Osaka University Robot Theater Project
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
$28, $25 Japan Society members
Imagine a time when “robot maids” are commonly found in family households. That’s the much-anticipated setting of these two heartrending short plays by Oriza Hirata, founder of Japan’s celebrated Seinendan Theater Company. In Sayonara (android and human actors), an android is bought to console a girl suffering from a fatal illness, but when its mechanics go awry, the meaning of life and death to humans and robots comes into question. In I, Worker (robots and human actors), a husband’s struggle to cope with the loss of his child is juxtaposed with the malaise of one of his robots, which has lost all motivation to work. This double bill was developed in collaboration with Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro, a leading international researcher on robotics and Director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University. Sayonara will be performed in English and Japanese with English subtitles. I, Worker will be performed in Japanese with English subtitles.
Friday, Feb. 15, 8:00 p.m.
Yumehina Puppet Company
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
$15, $12 students/seniors, $10 members
Master puppeteer Michika Iida of Yumehina Puppet Company leads the audience into a world of dreams and fantasies with two stunning plays. Iida will perform her original story Nekohime Kugutsu Mai (cat princess dance, a modern take on Japanese folklore about the long lives of cats and their magic powers to transform themselves) and Manjushaka (the equinox flower), both stories inspired by Japanese traditional mythology. Iida’s life-size puppets and masks enact a beautifully mysterious character dance of love, family and guilt.
The Devine One: Sassy Swings Tokyo
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, 74A East 4th Street
$15 general admission, $10 students/seniors
There are jazz singers and then there are jazz divas—and then there’s Sara Vaughan. Join “Sassy” as she swings her legendary 1973 comeback concert in Tokyo and takes us behind the scenes for a poignant glimpse backstage of the heart and soul of the woman who looked for love in the eyes of her man, but found it instead in front of an audience. Written by Laurence Maslon and directed by Lelund Durond, Sassy Swings Tokyo stars Starring Marinda Anderson and Gedde Yamonobe.
Tuesday, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m./9:30 p.m.
Toshiko Akiyoshi – Lew Tabackin Jazz Quartet
Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, 10 Columbus Circle
$35, $20 students for select sets
A 14-time Grammy nominee and 2007 NEA Jazz Master (the highest honor awarded to a living jazz musician by the United States), Toshiko Akiyoshi returns to New York for a two-set engagement with Lew Tabackin (flute, tenor saxophone), Paul Gill (bass), and Aaron Kimmel (drums). Possibly one of the greatest marriages in jazz history, both musically and romantically, Akiyoshi and Tabackin have been swinging jazz in various formats, from small groups to big bands, since the sixties. With no signs of slowing down at age 83, Akiyoshi is celebrated for her challenging and full textured arrangements that sometimes evoke her homeland of Japan.
Feb. 21-March 2
Is It Already Dusk?
Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn
$18, $12 students
Inspired by a true story, Is It Already Dusk? is a new physical theater piece by Joan Evans and Harry Rubeck. In August 1945, Takashi Tanemori was an eight-year-old child playing in the streets of Hiroshima the morning the atomic bomb detonated, changing his life forever. After a lifetime of struggling with feelings of vengeance, Takashi witnesses the 9/11 attacks. Will that atrocity reignite his ire or allow him to resolve his anger and suffering? A spiritual encounter with a butterfly, speaking to him in the voice of his mother, gives Takashi an opportunity to choose between forgiveness and revenge.
Saturday, Feb. 23, 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
AsianInNY 2013 Lunar New Year Celebration and Fashion Show
New York Law School, 185 West Broadway
$15-$20 advance purchase, $25 day of show
New York’s premier online destination for multicultural networking and entertainment, AsianInNY is rolling out the red carpet for the Year of the Snake. Hosted by Phil Nee, who has been called the godfather of Asian American comedians, this year’s showcase features musical performances by multi-award winning Ki-yo (well-known as Kiyotaka in Japan) and ballet dancer Shoko Tamai. Discovered at the age of 16, Ki-yo’s debut album, I’ll Be There, reached Number 7 on the Japan pop chart its first week. Currently, Ki-yo’s total album sales have reached over one million copies. Now a resident of New York, he has performed at the Apollo Theater, and his international debut single, “#1”, topped the Amazon Japan Pop Chart in three different categories (MP3 total sales, Pop, and R&B/Soul).
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 8:00 p.m.
The University of Tokyo Alumni Choir
Japan Earthquake Benefit and Sandy Relief Concert
Stern Auditorium, Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall
This 100-member choir group, consisting of graduates and current students of the university, will perform to benefit the relief efforts for the earthquake in Japan and the more recent Hurricane Sandy. Japanese traditional music as well as noh and kyogen play (with guest artist Giuseppe Bausilio, a.k.a. Billy of Billy Elliot the musical) will also be performed.
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