A photo exhibition, performances and workshops celebrate Japanese contemporary dance movement that started half a century ago.
“Dance of Death” has continued to evolve thanks in part to its focus on individual artist’s creativity—in other words, although one study with a master, s/he, unlike in classical performing arts, has plenty of artistic freedom to create their unique style or to blend it with other art forms. In Thailand, after Katsura Kan’s productions and workshops partly supported by the Japan Foundation, new works by, for example, Butoh Co-op Thailand, B-Floor Theatre, and Khandha Arts ‘n Theatre have shown a wide variety.
Terry Hatfield, Butoh Co-op’s artistic director, reflects, “Butoh has influenced not only dance and the theatre works, but also cinema, photography, visual arts, and music. I think it’s made such a strong impact because of its sometimes meditative quality which appeals to the ‘New Age’ movement in Western circles. The appeal for me is the loss of ego in performance which presents a more honest and organic technique to approach work. The performer dances the performer based on his/her individual experiences, DNA, and culture, not a prescribed technique of dance steps.”
“In the beginning, Tatsumi Hijikata was exploring movement that had no meaning which is virtually impossible. As he developed, he would take various concepts and take them out of the context that they are usually viewed—such as wearing a shoe on your head similar to Surrealistic paintings. This was the beginning—to look deeper into how we perceive the external world and ourselves in it.”
“Hijikata’s protégé, Koichi Tammano who is like the ‘Mick Jagger’ of Japan in the Butoh community once told me that the third generation of emerging Japanese artists do not have the same spirit of his day, but sees the spirit in Non-Japanese artists. Most of first generation artists are not living in
Co-organized by Butoh Co-op
Hatfield speaks of the past and present festivals, “Each year presents its own challenges. Last year some artists had to cancel due to the airport closure. This year we had a lot interest from all parts of the world and had to turn down some artists.”
“This year’s festival will feature second generation artists. We want to honor our first generation masters by presenting different styles and showcasing Thai artists as well. The main objective is for Thai artists to network with international artists. There is such a wealth of talent in
“For me, the festival is like a family reunion. I get to see my old friends, meet new ones, and share work and experiences. This year we have more sponsors which have been helpful. People are coming in from all over the world to make this festival happen. This year we have added two weekends of performances to accommodate audience demands. I’d like to see it grow. Each year it seems to grow more and more, I wonder how we can keep it going.”
Apart from the Butoh photo exhibition at Pridi Banomyong Institute and performances at Democrazy Theatre Studio, four workshops are scheduled.
Hatfield elaborates, “All levels are welcomed, and all disciplines—directors, visual artists, etc. You do not need any prior experience. Only requirement is to wear clothing that you can move in comfortably.”
“Each workshop offers a different approach—participants in today’s [December 11] workshop get the Latin American flavor of Butoh with Joao Roberto de Souza, similar to Diego Pinon’s work."
With Michael Sakamoto’s workshop tomorrow morning [December 12], they get a taste of the techniques incorporated by Min Tanaka and Oguri’s work; with Keiko Yamaghuchi’s Sunday afternoon [December 13] a feel for Katsura Kan’s [Butoh’s pioneer in Thailand] work; and in my workshop on Monday [December 14] I’ll share how to relax and focus with Qi Gong and treat sore muscles with Shiatsu.”
Butoh Photo Exhibition featuring works by two Bangkok-based lensmen Finnish Stephan Funke and Israeli Boaz Zippor is from Monday (December 14) to December 23 at Pridi Banomyong Institute in Soi Thing Lor. Admission is free.
Joining 4 Butoh workshops from today (December 11) to Monday (December 14) cost Bt 500 each, at Democrazy Theatre Studio in Soi Saphan Koo (MRT: Lumpini, Exit 1). This is where you can also watch Butoh performances by international artists tomorrow and Sunday, as well as next Saturday (December 19) and Sunday (December 20), at 7:30pm, for Bt 400.
For more details, email BFloor@BFloorTheatre.com ,or visit www.BFloorTheatre.com. For reservation, call 08 9167 4039.
written by Pawit Mahasarinand
published in THE NATION on Friday, December 11, 2009
photos courtesy of Butoh Co-op Thailand
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