One of the main performers of Eonnagata, Sylvie Guillem.

On February 9 and 10, Eonnagata performed its brilliant masterpiece in Zellerbach Hall. Ex Machina’s dance company brings together a fusion of theater and dance, the contemporary evolving and refining of the old eras of production. It tells the story of Charles de Beaumont who as a spy for France cross-dressed for his duties. Under Louis XVI, he was compelled to hold his image as a woman most of the time he served. But Eonnagata perfected a twist in their tale, creating him as both a man and woman.

This is an eclectic production of different works of art including the onnagata (a kabuki theater function that allows males to act female roles), Taiko, Japanese drumming, and more. The music even reflects the refined genre collection through its incorporation of trance, electro, futuristic, and ethnic cultures. Choreographically, they combine modern and classical dance as well as martial arts.

Eonnagata pushes the limits of the old and reveals new innovative strengths by exploring the depths of human identity and gender. With its simplistic settings primarily captured with proper lighting and simple sets, it expresses an elaborate tale of entanglement. Even the innovative lighting techniques seemed to do a show of their own with their fluidity in accordance with the performers. Furthermore, the remarkable choreography with the simple table sets changing from functional tables to affectionate mirrors created a visual orchestra.

This is one example of McQueen’s poignant yet limited use of color in his designs for the performance.

And who could forget the production’s great collaboration with costume designer Alexander McQueen? His usage of small color details and caged petticoats brought a wild rawness to the performance. Neither did his creations limit the characters’ or their movements; they embodied the characteristics of their inhabitants and brought added delight to the viewers. McQueen’s range of costumes for the three main performers traced back to the 18th century till the modern ages. The last costumes in the last scene in particular, incorporated his modern avant-garde style in the present with its high white collared long jackets.

McQueen’s veiled kimono enabled Eonnagata to perform on a greater visual height. All images courtesy of Cal Performances.

Here’s a link for those who want to see a glimpse of this amazing performance.

Dooee Kim
BARE Reporter

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