First, the demonstration started with Iemoto Akane doing an Ikebana composition on one side of the stage. Take a look at the amateur video below, to see how she worked.
No music, just silence for this prelude. And the oncidium used in the exhibit stood out, in my opinion.
In the diagonally opposite corner, she did another arrangement with huge hydrangeas and glory lilies. The vase for this piece was outstanding, and was her own creation. All this was carried out in silence. Suddenly, a parchment covering the entire floor of the arena almost, appeared, and there was Akane, creating a lovely calligraphy, which read "Flower is Heart" - we were told, by the announcer
Then the stage was cleared, and we were thrown into pitch dark silence. Then came some haunting chanting as the musicians of Yaz Kaz (http://www.yas-kaz.com/en.htm) along with some drummers from Senegal took to the stage! This was a really dramatic portion of the whole performance.
Take a look at the video below, just to get a little idea.
The Senagalese drummers complemented the dancers who came on stage holding branches in their arms, and performing a dance where they froze in different formations. Were they trees, swaying in the breeze?
Joining this tableau was a Japanese solo dancer, Kaiji Moriyama, (http://kaijimoriyama.com/profile_e.html). To me as a viewer, his performance conveyed grief, turmoil and agony, just through dance, which was exquisite. The picture below shows him on the big screen, as well as in the left corner of the stage.
As he danced, other team members brought in several bamboo poles and erected them one by one. Moriyama continued to dance through this bamboo. Iemoto Akane led her team in holding this long, woven "kyogi" dragon. (Kyogi is very then sheets of wood, kind of connected together). The dragon wove through the bamboo, and then came the most fantastic part of the show, for me - winter.
There was the lovely light and shade show wit the bamboos and their shadows. As Malathi says in the interview essay, the still bamboos came to life, moving and dancing with the shadows and lights. The effect was almost ethereal. And then came the "snow", or what seemed like it, showering down from above, as the picture below shows.
Iemoto Akane, re-entered in a bright red outfit, to signal the change of mood, tempo and emotion. Her team members scurried about, as they made some of the bamboos cross one another, inserted more kyogi, and brought in woven bamboo "cages". (Somehow, I did not care for this one element. How did it fit?) Flowers in abundance - magnolia, peach blossoms and azalea developed the composition.
And the finale was the arrival of Yuka Kamebuchi and her choir. Singing Japanese gospel? music, the choir came down the aisles, electrifying the audience with a very catchy tune. The sound and the music thrilled us all. In the picture below, she can be seen on the right, with the choir coming down one side.
Also, take a look at this video, to enjoy the audio for a while.
At the end, for me, it was a thrilling experience. The combining of Ikebana with music, dance, light and sound made the art into a performance in a way. I enjoyed the process immensely, and at every stage there was a sense of anticipation, as to how this piece would now develop.
I was left with some points to ponder at the end of the show.
Was there a unifying motif or theme, in the final composition that I had missed?
Or was it the process itself which was important to our enjoyment?
The Sogetsu School has brought out a DVD, which will do more justice to the show, than these little clips. Here's the link for the DVD. http://www.sogetsu.or.jp/english/goods/goods/item.php?item_cd=45