Turns in plastic: The recycled bottle ballet in Japan
At a top ballet show, the dancers' futuristic headgear shines, but just two months ago, their plastic costumes were sticky bottles that were thrown into a Tokyo recycling bin.
Plastic, a new production by well-known Japanese company K-BALLET, uses unusual set and wardrobe design to highlight a global pollution crisis.
The performance, which had a full house for its first short run in Yokohama, features 100 transparent umbrellas left behind in the Japanese capital, four enormous recycled bottle walls, and used bubble wrap tulips.
A group on stage, including US guest star Julian MacKay, leapt and spun through a shifting labyrinth like space-age creatures with hand-cleaned PET bottles strapped to their bodies.
At a top ballet show, the dancers’ futuristic headgear shines, but just two months ago, their plastic costumes were sticky bottles that were thrown into a Tokyo recycling bin. Photo: The OECD group of developed countries says that only 9% of plastic waste is successfully recycled, and that plastic waste has doubled worldwide in 20 years.
By 2040, the quantity of plastic entering the oceans will nearly triple, according to the United Nations.
According to MacKay, a 25-year-old dancer, the “huge problem” of plastic waste “really hasn’t gotten that spotlight” in the dance world, and he believes that the performing arts can assist in inspiring individuals to take action.
“When you combine a medium like ballet or dance with recycling or upcycling, you kind of make people think, “Well, what else can I do, what else works?””
K-BALLET’s chief producer Taiju Takano and scenographer Naoya Sakata searched through recycling bins for their plastic props in November at midnight in Tokyo’s Harajuku fashion district.
By 2040, the quantity of plastic entering the oceans will nearly triple, according to the United Nations. Photo: They removed used coffee cups, aluminum cans, and cigarette butts from stacks of tubs and sorted plastic bottles with the help of Shirai Eco Center staff.
In the upbeat conclusion of the show’s first half, Sakata also constructed the pixel-like bottle walls and huge letters that descended to spell “party people” from machine-recycled PET bottles that Shirai provided.
In total, more than 10,000 recycled and reused bottles were used in “Plastic,” and Sakata, 28, said that it made him realize how much trash is thrown away every day.
“Almost heavenly” In Japan, where even individual fruit pieces frequently come packaged, single-use plastic remains a significant issue.
However, the OECD estimates that Japan’s inhabitants produce a third less plastic waste than their counterparts in the United States, which is lower than the average for the European members of the organization.
According to the OECD, Japanese citizens produce a third less plastic waste than Americans do, which is lower than the European member average. Photo: Although often for “thermal recycling,” in which waste is burned for energy, AFP Japan also collects and recycles more plastic than many other nations.
According to Takano, a 27-year-old, some aspects of Plastic are meant to recall previous Japanese concepts of sustainability.
He stated to AFP that “mottainai” is a key word in our culture, describing how shameful it is to waste things.
“If you mistreated things and threw them away, the spirit of the object would appear as a ghost,” he stated.
According to MacKay, the stage design changed the way he saw the plastic items.
He stated, “When light goes through these bottles and creates something that looks almost heavenly, there’s a certain kind of beauty.”
On stage, US guest star Julian MacKay leapt and spun through a shifting maze with PET bottles strapped to his body. Photo: In the hope of restaging the show, AFP K-BALLET plans to keep its costumes and props for at least a year. After that, Shirai will recycle the bottles.
Ayumi Kisaki, a 30-year-old actor, said that the performance made her think about the issue as people left the auditorium.
It’s a topic that I rarely consider. However, these dancers’ emphasis on the problem of plastic helped me see it as my own problem to address, she told AFP.