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‘TeZukA’ Translates Osamu Tezuka’s Manga into Dance Show [Video]

You’ve no doubt heard Martin Mull’s often cited observation that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. I wonder what Mull would think of dancing about manga? That’s just what Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is attempting through his TeZukA, a multimedia dance show that explores the biography, work and influence of Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga” and the actual father of Astro Boy, Black Jack and scores of comic stories in just about every conceivable genre.

TeZukA is currently touring Asia and Europe, and a Wall Street Journal blog conducted a short Q-andA with Cherkaoui about the production.

A lifelong comics fan, Cherkaoui told the Wall Street Journal that one of his goals was to be “a sort of missionary,” introducing Tezuka to people who don’t know him at all, and introudcing things about him that those who do know his work might not know.

“If I can convert some people to read his work, I will be happy,” Cherkaoui said.

The production features 11 dancers, three musicians and a calligrapher, and features a score by composer Nitin Sawhney. Tezuka’s original illustrations are projected alongside calligraphy and video art, and the dancers attempt to “trace the physical evolution of Tezuka’s drawings,” according to the website for his company Eastman, “from a line on a blank page to a single Japanese kanji (letter) to a fully-formed manga character.” Both Astro Boy and Buddha, the subject of Tezuka biography, appear as characters within the performance.

A critic for The Guardian didn’t seem too terribly wowed by a London performance last fall
, granting it only two out of five stars, while The Telegraph critic liked it one star more. Me, I don’t know much about dance, but I have to assume that, like most things, it’s better with comics than without.

The 58-second trailer available on YouTube sure looks neat:

And here’s a four-minute interview with Cherkaoui talking about Tezuka and the performance:

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