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Project IX: Pleiades - An interview with choreographer and stage director Luca Veggetti

Published on
April 9

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Luca Veggetti, internationally-acclaimed Italian director and choreographer, to discuss his newest work Project IX - Pleiades as well as his artistic influences, connections to Japan, and upcoming projects. As choreographed by Veggetti and performed by percussionist Kuniko Kato and dancer Megumi Nakamura, Project IX - Pleiades will premiere in Yokohama, Japan before continuing on to New York City’s Japan Society (333 East 47th St.) for a limited run on May 2-3 at 7:30 pm.

Could you tell me a little about Project IX - Pleiades?

Project IX stands for Iannis Xenakis and it revolves around his music. It’s a collaborative project between me, the extraordinary percussionist Kuniko Kato, and the extraordinary dancer Megumi Nakamura. This multimedia music-dance production has different elements—there will of course be live playing by Kuniko and for sure live dancing by Megumi Nakamura, but it will also feature a complex video installation and music installation. Kuniko Kato will play Rebonds, a very important and famous piece by Xenakis for solo percussion, in two parts. I always find that Kuniko’s way of playing is totally choreographic, so in that sense it’s another dance element. And then the other Xenakis piece will, of course, be Pléiades, as expressed through different media in addition to live performance.

What about Xenakis’ work inspired you to create this piece?

Xenakis’ music I know quite well from having worked on it before, here in New York especially. Xenakis had a strong interest in Japanese culture, and Japanese theater in particular—an interest I share, by the way. For him, noh theater in particular represented some kind of supreme form in terms of theatrical tradition, which conveyed his ideals about theater exactly. And so we felt because of this connection it was natural to build a project that hereditarily comes from Japan and that we’re performing in New York at Japan Society with Japanese performers. So this interest in Xenakis has been our starting point in the construction of the evening.

Have you ever worked with either dancer Megumi Nakamura or percussionist Kuniko Kato before?

No, actually, I haven’t worked with either Kuniko or Megumi, though we know each other quite well. Kuniko is a recognized Xenakis interpreter and I’ve worked extensively on Xenakis’ music, notably my production in New York of Oresteia, a major multidisciplinary operatic work. So I know Kuniko through this Xenakis connection and I know Megumi because I’ve seen her dance many times. I’ve always admired her a lot so for me it’s a great honor and gift to be working with her. It’s an inspiring opportunity.

Much of your previous work has been performed in Japan, created with Japanese artists, or, in the case of Hanjo, even based on a classical Japanese noh play!  What’s your relationship with Japanese artists and Japanese culture?

My particular relationship to Japan, apart from being married to a Japanese woman who’s also an artist, is very mysterious in reality. Since I was very, very, very little, maybe six or seven years old, Japan has been somehow my dream country. I was drawn to the Japanese aesthetic, let’s say, as if out of the blue. And then later on in life this kind of childish interest developed into a substantial interest in some Japanese artistic forms, notably the theater. And that has led in recent years to collaboration with a very important Japanese composer, Toshio Hosokawa, whose latest stage work I will present in New York in late May at the New York Philharmonic New Music Biennial, with Gotham Chamber Opera at Lincoln Center. So through Hosokawa’s music and through my personal relationship to Toshio I came into even more contact with Japanese performers for one, as well as with Japanese noh theater. Toshio also finds in noh his ideal form, and we actually met due to this shared interest. And I did stage his opera Hanjo, which is based on one of Yukio Mishima’s modern noh plays. So my passion for Japan is mysterious in that it began before I even had a sense of what that passion could possibly represent. But it has led to a true passion and to something that has been very, very significant for me and my artistic development.

Last but not least, do you have any upcoming projects that you’re particularly excited about? You’ve mentioned the Hosokawa opera…

Yes, the Hosokawa opera is called The Raven, based on the poem by Edgar Allen Poe and influenced by noh as a model. And that’s very exciting to me. Actually, it’ll open right after Project IX - Pleiades. And then there’s another Hosokawa project I’m staging in January of 2015, his first opera called Vision of Lear that’s set in Hiroshima. That’ll be a very large production of a major work.


Project IX - Pleiades runs for two nights only—May 2nd at May 3rd at Japan Society 333 East 47th Street. Visit here to learn more and to purchase tickets. 


Photo: Portrait L. Veggetti (c) Terry Lin