TROLL. SEER. The Mighty Mouse of Modern Dance. Archaeologist. Laborer. These are just a few of the titles that apply to choreographer-dancer Kei Takei.
Born in Tokyo, now a seasoned Manhattanite, this tiny willful woman has for 18 years been consumed with the creation and performance of her epic dance "Light." The work, which to date consists of 23 sections, is in this writer's opinion one of the masterpieces of 20th-century dance.
In each of these sections, Takei and her dancers, collectively known as Moving Earth, conjure up a timeless society of hardworking, earthbound souls who play out specific rituals, tasks, customs or games. Unfolding slowly and deliberately, these events range from harrowing encounters to Sisyphean projects to merry romps. Nature in all of its guises dominates the proceedings; the choreographer fills the space with stones, pinecones or Japanese radishes, sets her movement to wind sounds, chronicles both the bliss and the violence inherent in the natural world.
Takei and her performers seem to live rather than dance the material. There is nothing tentative about their actions; they hurl their bodies through space, hit the ground full force, hang on to each other as if their lives depended on it. Yet the movement itself consists of the most basic activities -- walking, running, jumping, embracing -- heightened to almost unbelievable intensity.
Thanks to the combined efforts of the Dance Place and the Japan-America Society of Washington (whose "Japan-America Dance Project" continues all this month) Moving Earth will be presenting many parts of "Light" here, both outdoors and indoors. The most recent section, "Pilgrimage," will be performed at the Washington Monument and Washington Harbour, and two additional programs will be presented this weekend and next at the Dance Place. Anyone interested in serious and stirring movement would do well to experience Takei and company's art. KEI TAKEI'S MOVING EARTH --
Free outdoor performance this Friday at 6 at the Washington Monument. Indoor performances Saturday at 8:30 and Sunday at 7:30 at The Dance Place, 3225 Eighth St. NE: $11, $7.50 for students, seniors and artists. 269-1600.