Pop-Up Performance Explores How We Cope With Disaster

Debby Kajiyama wears a bright red sweater that’s attached to Jose Navarrete’s matching red sweater by long, floppy sleeves. On the corner of 24th and Bartlett, she stands on tiptoe, and when she raises her arms the sleeves roll toward Navarrete, looking like a bouncy red slide. The dancers pull each other close, push each other away and roll on the sidewalk in a series of graceful moves that attract a small crowd.

Near the end of the 18-minute pop-up performance piece, titled “Lost and Found,” Kajiyama lifts her sweater over her head, leaves Navarette on the ground and casually walks away. Freedom from constraint is attained in this final act, after a tension-filled performance. Symbolically, the piece addresses how we cope with environmental disaster and questions our dependence on one another.

The children in the crowd may not know what it means, but they are intrigued by the dance.

“The kids are the best measure of whether we’re successful or not,” says Kajiyama after she returns from the other side of the street and Navarrete gets up, signaling the end of the show. “If they stop, it’s like, OK, we did something we want to do.”

The abstract performance, part of Kajiyama and Navarrete’s latest activist multidisciplinary performance work, called “BAILOUT!” or “Can you picture this prophecy? The temperatures are too hot for me,” is part of a series of site-specific pop-up shows performed around the Mission and leading up to performances in and around Dance Mission Theater.

In the performances, Kajiyama and Navarette explore Japan’s 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe. They ponder who will bail everyone out after the large financial institutions are bailed out.

“It’s about the long-term effects of the short-term havoc that we’re wreaking on the planet,” Kajiyama says. She’s saddened by the thought of generations of her family having to live with the results of environmental disasters in the future.

Through their Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Theater (NAKA), the two performers create work that explores environmental issues through a combination of theater, movement, multimedia and art installation. They have performed pieces about the depletion of natural resources, the privatization of water and the genetic modification of crops.

“BAILOUT!” is their creative way of spreading awareness and inspiring others to take action.

“This is just a tiny, tiny blip,” Kajiyama says of the “Lost and Found” performance. “I feel like if each person does a tiny blip, then it will build into something that will create change.”

Kajiyama and Navarrete’s “BAILOUT!” opens tonight at 8 p.m. at Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., and runs through Sunday. It will include performances on all four corners of the 24th and Mission intersection. More details here.

Filed under: Mobile, Today's Mission

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