Kenneth Pierce, senior secretary at the Sloan School of Management, is a choreographer, dancer and teacher who focuses on European Renaissance and baroque dance.
Noticing similarities in spirit and philosophy between these dance forms and Bugaku-Japanese court dances dating from the seventh century in which almost every step is preceded by a gentle bend at the knee-he joined the Cambridge-based Jo Ha Kyu Performance Group, which teaches and presents Japanese court dance and contemporary performance art.
"There's a similarly satisfying attention to order and symmetry and a similar sense of dignity," he said of Bugaku. "It isn't easy for dancers to keep track of their history, and Bugaku offers an amazing opportunity to connect with the past. Part of its beauty for me lies in its great distance from current fashion."
Mr. Pierce will be one of the performers in an evening of Japanese music and dance titled Ancient and Today on Saturday, June 15, at 8pm in Kresge Auditorium. Sponsored by the MIT Japan Program and the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, the program includes both dances in the ancient tradition and newly choreographed contemporary works performed by Suenobu Togi, master of the hichiriki (double reed instrument), biwa (lute) and Dances of the Right (of Korean origin); taiko percussionist Kenny Endo; choreographer Arawana Hayashi and the Jo Ha Kyu Performance Group. The concert includes Engiraku, an elegant four-person literary dance from the Engi period; Bato, a masked dance performed by Mr. Togi; and a new work titled, Keep in Touch, blending traditional discipline and contemporary style, all performed with a live orchestra. Tickets: $14, $10 students/seniors, $5 MIT students. Information: 782-5352.
In conjunction with the concert, Mr. Togi is offering intensive workshops June 12-15, in Gagaku, the world's oldest orchestral music and Bugaku. The Gagaku workshop (instruments provided) will be held Wednesday through Friday, 6:30-9:30pm and Saturday, 2-4:30pm; the Bugaku workshops will be held Wednesday through Saturday, 9:30am-12noon. The full series of workshops cost $100 and single classes cost $30. Call 782-5352 for information or to register.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 12, 1996.