Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Deco Dance: Take A Jazz-Age Spin With Japan's 'Modern Girl'

Deco Japan's moga want to trip the light fantastic with you.
Pleasure seekers, late night revelry, and a glut of cosmopolitan glamour characterize Japan Society’s current exhibition, Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945, so what better way to celebrate licentiousness than to set up our very own speakeasy on a Saturday night?

On May 5th, from 7:00 pm to midnight, the Society teams up with New York City’s premier promoter of anachronistic parties, Dances of Vice, along with The Art Deco Society of New York to bring you Dances of Vice: Deco Japan and the Heart of the Modern Girl.

The evening opens with an intimate exhibition tour by Japan Society Gallery director Joe Earle, who drops intoxicating tidbits you won’t hear elsewhere about the era’s fashionable flirtation with all things foreign and the concurrent rise of militarism and its bold aesthetic expressions.

From 8:00-9:00 prohibition is lifted with an open sake bar for those inclined to the devil’s drink. Art Deco Society of New York president Kathryn Hausman welcomes guests and the evening kicks off with a Charleston dance lesson, followed by live jazz courtesy of the Kuni Mikami Jazz Quintet featuring vocalist Mari Koga.

Guests roaming the gallery during the event are sure to stumble upon the star of the show, the moga, or modern girl, with her bobbed hair, bright lips and cocktail always close by. Featured in paintings, photographs, prints, sheet music covers, and figurines, the moga was the hip coquette of the era, and she springs to life in a fashion show curated by Mutsumi Gee of Allure Original Styles as the hours wear on.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Dress to impress in your pre-War finest! The evening is part of Japan Society's Open House Weekend, May 5 & 6, celebrating the Society's inclusion in Partners in Preservation's online restoration grant competition between 40 NYC landmarks. Vote daily through May 21.

--Kristen Sollee 

IMAGES (top to bottom): Saitō Kazō (1887–1955); Publisher: Bikutā Shuppansha; Kindai otome gokoro (Heart of the Modern Girl) [Detail], from series Bikutā hāmonika gakufu (Victor Sheet Music for Harmonica); songbook cover; color lithograph, inks on paper, 1930; 26.5 x 19 cm (10 ¼ x 7 7/16 in.); photograph courtesy of The Levenson Collection. Kobayakawa Kiyoshi (1899–1948); Dansā or Setsuna no kyokusen (Dancer or Curve of the Instant); woodblock print; ink and colors on paper, 1932; 41.9 x 25.4 cm (16½ x 10 in.); photograph courtesy of The Levenson Collection. Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945 is drawn from The Levenson Collection and is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia.