A Horse’s Neck

(Yuri & Seisaku’s Butoh Workshop)

This evening was raining in Tokyo and at the end of the session the water had become watersnow (you know it is winter in Japan). 

This time I took the subway and not the train, just to try a different way, and I realized that it was 6 minutes walk from the metro station to the room instead of 12 minutes coming from the train station, so it’s worth the change. 

Yuri arrived late, we started with Seisaku doing also the physical training. It was the first time I heard him speaking English; he knows many words but as Yuri speaks better English he is just shy (or lazy) letting her doing all the translations during the workshops. Finally she arrived and continued the physical training till the point we all got exhausted.

For the second part, the Butoh one, Seisaku asked if anyone had a neck injury because the whole session was going to be a work with that part of the body. We all were good and he continued.

He started speaking about the horse and its body, as usual doing the movements himself while doing the indications. 

The most important thing to start here it was the long body of the animal and the movement of the neck coming from the bottom of the spine. 

We had to work in couples: one was the front part of the horse while the other, holding the waist of his/her partner, was the back. 

After that exercise we started the evolutive process he always uses. These are the exercises we worked at the session:

-Movement of the neck and long body of the horse (in couples)

-5 movements of the horse. A kind of basic movements choreography. (The video In posting is from this exercise doing it by Yumiko Yoshioka, Yuri Nagaoka and Kosule Ishiwara)

-Atmosphere around the 5 movements: morning with breeze and fog.

-Consciousness of the house being in a group of houses.

-Adding more details around: following a fly, eating grass, smelling the others, touching.

-The group again but keeping all the 5 actions worked before.

-A free improvisation using everything we’d worked and whatever came to us around the subject.

Then something came as a twist during this series of exercises:

-From the experience of the sounds coming from the horses Seisaku went to explain the movements of the Loch Ness monster as the movements of a dinosaur, with its heavy weight, super long neck and its sound coming from its immense body. The importance of the spine again for the movements of that dinosaur’s neck. We had to work that mythic dinosaur with its heavy weight, long neck in the shape of a S and its deep sound.

-The long neck became then the long -fantastic- neck of the rokurokubi, the famous Japanese ghost. So we worked that ghost with his long twisted neck that he/she doesn’t even know where it goes. (I’m posting the image of rokurokuri drawn by Hokusai)

-Finally a free improvisation being the horse, the dinosaur or the long neck ghost, or the three together if we wanted. Seisaku even remember Hijikata saying the we could become many horses in one moment.

We all truly enjoyed the session, another one when there is very few indications about the personal quality of our work, but mostly the emphasis is to work, to practice. Seisaku comments and laughs and takes photographs while we are working, he is everything but the image of the inspired divinized Butoh master, he doesn’t want to become that. 

But the most enjoyable thing for me, of course, is the process, what I call “the evolutive process to become and be”. Step by step, we work everytime the different levels of a transformation till the moment we become something we’re working on. Here, the philosophy of Butoh is in the practice of becoming.

After the session almost the whole group went to have dinner again. I ate fantastic raw chicken and some unforgettable good cold soba noodles, and went home past midnight again. 

(Thursday January 31st, 2019)

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