The Japanese word reimei (黎明) literally means “dawn” or “daybreak,” but the term goes much deeper than a time when the sun rises. A more esoteric explanation refers to a symbolic change in time, as when night turns to day, but also an evolution of sorts, the dawning of a new age.
It is from this term that LEIMAY, a Brooklyn-based theater company led by Japanese native Shige Moriya and Colombian-born artist Ximena Garnica, takes its name. Pinpointing the exact genre of LEIMAY is as difficult as defining the word LEIMAY itself.
“At the fundamental level, we do theater,” says, Garnica, who has been creating projects with Moriya since 2000. “In theatre, there is a ‘doer’ and a ‘witness.’ The doer is a performer, actor, dancer, someone who uses his or her body and voice. What people tend to think of our genre in New York in 2016 is more dance than theater, but it’s physical dance theater.’”
Garnica and Moriya have spent years defining and redefining the “doer” and the doer’s physical space in their projects, which combine Garnica’s choreography with Moriya’s lighting and video installations. There are also elements of Butoh, which has been a prominent part of their careers. The two have conducted numerous Butoh workshops, presented the NY Butoh Festival, and established the LEIMAY LUDUS Training program, which teaches performers about the connectivity of the body with consciousness.
“I had two Butoh masters who tremendously influenced the way I use my body and made me think about what the body can do,” says Garnica.
The couple continues to explore the body in space and time in their latest project, borders, premiering at BAM Fisher on Thursday, February 18 and running through Sunday, February 21. The work is the sequel to LEIMAY’s sold-out performances of BECOMING –corpus in 2013.
Garnica and Moriya began working on the second chapter to their “BECOMING series” in January of last year.
“It’s a long process,” Moriya says of embarking on a new work. “Sometimes we play with video and the body and find a few interesting things. We’re always looking for something that’s good for the theater. I show Ximena [his concept] or she tells me this is interesting . . . It takes time to build a piece.”
There are six performers in borders, and Garnica calls them “a great team of dancers, wonderful, very fearless.” They work four days a week, for hours a day on timing and precision.
“Everything is a material,” says Garnica. “Our challenge is to find what are the connections between these materials. Sometimes materials enter out of necessity, and there is harmony between materials. But chaos can have harmony. An untuned harmony. A cacophony of harmony.”
For those who are new to LEIMAY’s brand of theater, Garnica advises potential audiences to enter BAM Fisher with an open mind and without expectations.
“There’s nothing to ‘get,’” Garnica says. “You don’t need to understand anything. Come and allow yourself to be in the moment without asking yourself what it means. Allow the body to be absorbed and be enveloped. The body will trigger memories, concepts, anxiety.”
Garnica and Moriya begin with the unknown and communicate to the audience through the manipulation of the body in harmony with light, sound, and space.
“Our big motivation is to explain something we want to share with people, an experience which touches us deeply,” says Moriya. “First, it has to touch me. Then, I think about how should I show it.”
“We have ‘Aha moments’ when it clicked,” says Garnica. “Like solving a problem in algebra, or cooking a meal. We don’t have the word for that, but there’s a sense that you’re content with the whole present, past, and future.”
Perhaps we do have a word for that. “Reimei,” a dawning, a transition into a new era.
Thursday, February 18 through Sunday, February 21
BAM Fisher – 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn
To purchase tickets, please visit BAM’s website.