Archivo de la categoría: 2019

“Lo que está en el centro de mis actuaciones está inevitablemente vinculado a mi existencia diaria.” (Yoshito Ohno)

Yoshito Ohno:

“Como constantemente pongo todo lo que tengo en mis performances, cada aspecto de mi existencia, incluso mi vida familiar se absorbe en el proceso creativo. Es algo inevitable y simplemente no puedo decir que no cuando algún miembro de la familia expresa se deseo de inmiscuirse completamente en el proceso. Al aceptar esas ofertas la cuestión es entonces cómo encontrar puntos en común dados nuestras diferencias en gustos sea en música u otros aspectos. Nunca ha sido nada excepcional el que mi esposa esté envuelta en el cuidado de mi vestuario y otras cosas de mi trabajo. Ella será siempre la primer persona que consultaría sobre qué usar en escena. Lo mismo aplica para otros miembros de la familia: cuando ellos rechazan algo simplemente es así como debe de ser.

Si pudiéramos hacer una distinción entre lo imaginario y lo real, entonces el trabajo escénico se construye sobre el imaginario. Sin embargo, sin estar familiarizados con los entresijos de la existencia diaria, no podemos crear un mundo imaginario. Crear algo de sustancia implica una gran cantidad de atención a los detalles de nuestra vida cotidiana y a la reflexión sobre nuestros encuentros diarios con el mundo real. Este proceso me implica examinar el significado no solo de mi forma particular de hacer Butoh sino también de lo que el Butoh en general significa en mi vida. Lo que está en el centro de mis actuaciones está inevitablemente vinculado a mi existencia diaria.”

(Yoshito Ohno, “Butoh: Un camino de vida”. Yokohama, Japón. 2015.)

(Texto original en inglés y japonés)

(Yoshito Ohno en escena mientras su esposa lo mira atrás desde bambalinas)

La primera ocasión que fui al estudio de Kazuo Ohno descubrí que el estudio estaba dentro de la propiedad en donde la familia Ohno vive. Ahí había vivido Kazuo Ohno con su esposa y familia, y ahí ahora vive Yoshito Ohno con su esposa, quien guarda una respetuosa distancia siempre que están los estudiantes. A ella fue quien vi por primera vez cuando llegué la primera noche a tomar el ansiado taller en el estudio. Estaba en la cocina y de inmediato llamó al maestro Yoshito, él me saludó y me dijo que pasara al estudio. Unos años después en Montreal (yo vivía en Canadá en ese tiempo) fui a tomar una clase con Yoshito Ohno y ella tras él llevaba una enorme maleta con flores, seda, algodón y otros aditamentos que el maestro regularmente usa en sus talleres; recuerdo haber notado que cuidadosamente acomodaba todo los materiales para que estuvieras listos y a la mano cuando Yoshito los necesitara; días más tarde también salió de los camerinos detrás de él después de la función que dio en el Atélier de la Danse.

Su hija, Keiko Ohno, está cerca de todo aquello que hace su padre en el estudio, talleres y archivo; lleva una especie de diario de cada sesión del taller y en cada presentación u homenaje, al menos en Japón, está presente.

Aún cuando Yoshito Ohno está solo en el escenario, su trabajo sobre la escena es un asunto de familia, sin duda.

El Butoh entre los Ohno, desde la presencia de Kazuo, el padre, ha sido un asunto de familia, como si hubiera sido una tradición heredada. Kazuo Ohno lo inició alimentándolo con los recuerdos de su madre y acercando a los vivos mismos a su producción. Sin duda el centro de las danzas de Yoshito Ohno está inevitablemente vinculado a la existencia diaria que tiene con los vivos y muertos que lo rodean.

(Yoshito Ohno durante su taller en la escuela de danza de Montréal en 2013. Al lado izquierdo su esposa sentada, manejando el sonido)

(Keiko Ohno junto a su padre Yoshito Ohno en 2013. A la derecha está el estudio de danza y a la izquierda está la casa de la familia Ohno)

(Yoshito Ohno bailando con Kazuo Ohno títere en el estudio, en enero de 2019, mientras es observado por dos de sus hijas y su esposa)

(Estos textos son parte de un proyecto de traducción y análisis personal para acercar al mundo de habla española la filosofía y la vida de Yoshito Ohno, quien ha formado parte del Butoh desde su origen y a quien considero mi maestro)

Anuncios

¿Por qué no orar mientras danzamos?

Yoshito Ohno:

“Durante los años de guerra cuando estábamos viviendo en Katsuura, mi abuela me hacía acompañarla al templo todos los días. Había muchos templos y capillas en las cercanías, y ella se comprometía a sí misma a ir a cada uno de esos templos, aún a la iglesia local. Insistía en decir que los lugares de culto eran indispensables. Cada vez que entraba a uno de esos templos se la pasaba orando mientras que yo andaba por ahí jugando. Mi abuelo y mi abuela era devotos creyentes de Jodo Shinshu (budismo de la tierra pura). Cuando preguntaba a mi abuela: -“¿por qué rezas tanto tiempo?”, su respuesta era: -”Rezo por todos, así que aunque cuando tuviera todo el tiempo del mundo no sería suficiente”. Sí, ella se pasaba tanto tiempo orando porque debía hacerlo por y para todos. Se sentaba ahí por horas a rezar, aún cuando íbamos de regreso a casa. Estaba continuamente inmersa en la oración a lo largo de toda su vida.

A mis diez años fui a Yokohama siguiendo a mi padre (Kazuo Ohno) a su regreso de Nueva Guinea después de su liberación del campo de prisioneros. La casa donde vivíamos estaba en el subterráneo de la Mission School, la escuela cristiana en la que mi padre enseñaba. Como había una iglesia en la escuela también los domingos me mandaban ahí. Mis años de secundaria y preparatoria los pasé en la Mission School. Como mis padres eran cristianos, mi hermano mayor fue bautizado sin demora. Sin embargo, siendo educado en tan religiosa atmósfera, yo no fui nunca bautizado. Yo estaba cercano al budismo debido a las visitas de mi abuela a todos los templos y capillas. Habiendo siendo testigo de su gran fervor religioso me fue difícil alejarme de las creencias del budismo que estaban ya enraizadas dentro de mí. Aún así no soy devoto de ninguna religión como tal.

En años recientes estudiantes de todo el mundo vienen al estudio buscando aprender más sobre el Butoh; así que tenemos estudiantes de lugares tan alejados como India y China, y de variadas creencias religiosas: musulmanes, hindúes, budistas y cristianos. Así que siempre hago una sugerencia durante las sesiones de los talleres: -“¿por qué no oramos mientras danzamos?”. Creo que “orar” es significativo en esta idea de orar por la felicidad de los demás y que es algo que todos tenemos en común, más allá de nuestras creencias religiosas individuales.”

(Yoshito Ohno, “Butoh: Un camino de vida”. Yokohama, Japón. 2015.)

¿Por qué no orar mientras danzamos?Yoshito Ohno: “Durante los años de guerra cuando estábamos viviendo en Katsuura, mi abuela me hacía acompañarla al templo todos los días. Había muchos templos y capillas en las cercanías, y ella se comprometía a sí misma a ir a cada uno de esos templos, aún a la iglesia local. Insistía en decir que los lugares de culto eran indispensables. Cada vez que entraba a uno de esos templos se la pasaba orando mientras que yo andaba por ahí jugando. Mi abuelo y mi abuela era devotos creyentes de Jodo Shinshu (budismo de la tierra pura). Cuando preguntaba a mi abuela: -“¿por qué rezas tanto tiempo?”, su respuesta era: -”Rezo por todos, así que aunque cuando tuviera todo el tiempo del mundo no sería suficiente”. Sí, ella se pasaba tanto tiempo orando porque debía hacerlo por y para todos. Se sentaba ahí por horas a rezar, aún cuando íbamos de regreso a casa. Estaba continuamente inmersa en la oración a lo largo de toda su vida.A mis diez años fui a Yokohama siguiendo a mi padre (Kazuo Ohno) a su regreso de Nueva Guinea después de su liberación del campo de prisioneros. La casa donde vivíamos estaba en el subterráneo de la Mission School, la escuela cristiana en la que mi padre enseñaba. Como había una iglesia en la escuela también los domingos me mandaban ahí. Mis años de secundaria y preparatoria los pasé en la Mission School. Como mis padres eran cristianos, mi hermano mayor fue bautizado sin demora. Sin embargo, siendo educado en tan religiosa atmósfera, yo no fui nunca bautizado. Yo estaba cercano al budismo debido a las visitas de mi abuela a todos los templos y capillas. Habiendo siendo testigo de su gran fervor religioso me fue difícil alejarme de las creencias del budismo que estaban ya enraizadas dentro de mí. Aún así no soy devoto de ninguna religión como tal.En años recientes estudiantes de todo el mundo vienen al estudio buscando aprender más sobre el Butoh; así que tenemos estudiantes de lugares tan alejados como India y China, y de variadas creencias religiosas: musulmanes, hindúes, budistas y cristianos. Así que siempre hago una sugerencia durante las sesiones de los talleres: -“¿por qué no oramos mientras danzamos?”. Creo que “orar” es significativo en esta idea de orar por la felicidad de los demás y que es algo que todos tenemos en común, más allá de nuestras creencias religiosas individuales.”(Yoshito Ohno, “Butoh: Un camino de vida”. Yokohama, Japón. 2015.)

Texto original de la cita anterior en inglés y en japonés.

En la bitácora de unas de mis primeras sesiones (mayo de 2011) en el estudio de Kazuo Ohno en Yokohama, escribí:

“Ellos entonces, los maestros creadores, son nuestro punto de partida y nuestra inspiración. A ellos también ofrecemos nuestro trabajo. 

Y antes de toda ofrenda, aprendemos a orar.

Nunca antes, hasta el primer día de trabajo con el maestro Yoshito Ohno, había escuchado la idea de orar en escena, de una manera tan simple, y sin implicar ninguna religión. Varios maestros occidentales me habían hablado de un espacio sagrado de trabajo, pero parecían burdos intentos de sacralizar algo que nos era ajeno totalmente.

Cuando mi primer ejercicio con el maestro Ohno fue simplemente orar, algo nuevo apareció: en su manera de decirlo (tuve la enorme suerte de que se me tradujera en tiempo real durante esa sesión), en sus tonos, en su mirada, la indicación era diferente; habría que dar el primer paso orando, el primer ejercicio, es decir, el primer movimiento, la primera improvisación de movimiento. 

El primer paso es, siempre, orar. 

Yoshito Ohno nos explicaba que la danza Butoh nació del recuerdo en Hijikata y Kazuo Ohno de las terribles tragedias de la segunda guerra mundial, de su odio y de su dolor; hablaba de cómo Kazuo había sufrido en su travesía de regreso de Filipinas a Japón, de cómo había visto morir a la gente dentro de su barco, y que con ellos rezaba, con esas imágenes, y que también a ellos les ofrecía su movimiento. Entonces preguntaba ¿qué hay en tu rezo?, ¿sobre qué rezas tú?, ¿por quién rezas tú? Así comenzábamos a movernos.

Cada día la frase inicial de trabajo era “oren” (en inglés para mí, “pray”, y en japonés para los otros, inoru 祈る)… Entonces iba hacia donde estaba el sistema de sonido y comenzaba a poner discos, dos, tres, cuatro piezas: el Ave María de Schubert (tan apreciado por Kazuo), Il mio babbino caro (por María Callas), Amazing Grace, o piezas de música budista. Y entonces orábamos, día a día, y cada sesión, y en su repetición nuevas posibilidades de oración estaban en nosotros: oré por aquellos muertos que vió Kazuo, por lo míos propios, oré por la imagen de un Kazuo moribundo, por los pies del cadaver de Hijikata, oré por mi propio pasado… y me moví, como los otros que estaban ahí que también oraban y se movían.

De esa oración surgió la ofrenda, nuestro movimiento como una ofrenda: la historia de esa ofrenda de Kazuo por todos esos muertos era profundamente poderosa, de la misma manera aquella en la que dedicaba sus bailes a su madre, al gran cariño que sentía por ella, donde su rezo se convertía en la sensación de un cordón umbilical sobre la escena que era en realidad una enorme matriz.

Esa ofrenda era una petición, petición a nuestras fuerzas, petición al espacio, contacto con él, todos nuestros sentidos en él, con las cuatro esquinas, los cuatro lados, con el suelo, con el cielo.

Nuestro movimiento no debía ser externo, el rezo y la ofrenda debían ser internas: “Nadie sabe cómo debes tú rezar y ofrecerte, sólo tú, encuentra tu rezo, encuentra tu camino de ofrecimiento moviéndote”. Es una continua exploración.” 

(“En el inicio están los fundadores, la oración y la ofrenda. (Aprendiendo Butoh con Yoshito Ohno)”. Gustavo Thomas Butoh Blog. Mayo, 2011. Yokohama, Japón.)


                        *

(Estos textos son parte de un proyecto para acercar al mundo de habla española la filosofía y la vida de Yoshito Ohno, quien ha formado parte del Butoh desde su origen)

Qipao, A Gender Game (A Photoperformance in Guangzhou, China)

It’s been a year since I presented the first phase of my photoperformance project “Pride Chinese Style” and it came the opportunity to show the advances of the second phase, exactly during the same event I did last year, the LGTBQ festival around the consulates in Guangzhou. As you may know, there is no way to have any event directed to the LGTBQ community in Guangzhou because is considered illegal by the Chinese government, so the only way the LGTBQ community has found is through the foreign representations in the city, including, proudly, the Mexican Consulate which has been very supportive in all events around gender equality.

This time I’ve been working around a quintessentially Chinese dress, Qipao or Cheongsam (as it is called in Cantonese), which has become a symbol of femininity in China and beyond, and then I play a simple gender twist: it is not a woman but a man who’s wearing the qipao, not as a drag but mostly as a man using proudly a dress directed to dress only women.

This phase of the project is not a documental idea of the queer community in Guangzhou, as I intended in the first one, but more into an staging, a creative game with a very simple subject. You’ll be the judge, but more than that I hope you experience this as public, putting in mind the social moment China is living right now.

“Qipao, A Gender Game” is structured in two parts: the photo exhibition and the Butoh and dance performance, but little by little I’ve been mixing both, be during the photoshoots or even during the presentations.

The first show of this second phase will be at the Mexican Consulate in Guangzhou next June 12th, 2019, ti will be there during all the month and later will move to another venue to confirm yet.

Here you hace some of the documents around. Of course you can find much more on the Website of the project: Pride Chinese Style

About the Butoh work…

(All photographs by Gustavo Thomas and Xu Shenghua)

A shamanic ritual in Northern Mongolia


We could say that Shamanism in Mongolia has almost disappeared as it has happened in many other parts of the world these days, but some parts in the north of the country are trying to keep alive this religious tradition, and they are doing it mainly because it is a popular believe among Mongolian people that shamanism actually works, and also because it is a good source of revenue from tourism national and international. 

The frozen Khovsgol Lake in northern Mongolia (Gustavo Thomas © 2019)

Knowing that the Ice festival in Khovsgol was holding a shamanistic ritual the night of its first day, I was looking forward to be there and watch it. Of course I was aware that this was not a purist exhibition of tribal ancient shamanism. What I was interested in was experiencing an event like this as it is performed nowadays, I was thinking in a mix of spectacle and healing ritual.

During the day visiting the festival I had a short visual introduction when I saw some folk sculptures depicting shamans in trance.

The Ice festival is hold on a large area of the frozen lake Khovsgol so it is the shamanic ritual. Cars and buses park on the frozen lake too, and from the parking place we had to walk on the ice in the dark among crowds of people, food and beverages stands, electronic music bars and whatever was happening in a popular festival at night. Once we got to the event place everything was even more chaotic: hundreds of people around the ritual space delimited by a fence, at the middle a kind of Native American teepee (I apologize for my ignorant comparison), but only made of long and dry tree branches with attached colourful ribbons, and around that kind of tent I counted other four smaller dry bushes all prepared to be burned; people walking from one part to the other inside the fence area preparing something that I couldn’t know exactly what; also there journalists, photographers and even a TV crew with their lights and mics making interviews. 

Trying to find a good place where to watch I kept myself going from one place to another during the whole event, staying at the best a few minutes at one spot before being literally pushed away by other spectators. 

There was a voice of a man all the time speaking with a microphone (later that night the guide told us that this man was giving information about what was happening, only in Mongolian, but from his point of view it was an excess of information), like narrating a sport event in real time. 

After a few minutes in that chaos I could differentiate the image of the shaman, a woman. She was walking all around the place looking to the floor and to the sky; she started to spit some liquid from her mouth and then with a bottle flicking the liquid to the audience who reacted at unison, all shouting the same words and trying to reach the flicked water with their hands. Not much after that the shaman was moving quicker, jumping; also being hold by other people she was fainting. From afar I could observe her face, she was in a trance, with her eyes closed and making rhythmics noises with her voice. Jumping again -always in a very rhythmic way- her dress, made of pieces of clothes and animals, gave me the impression of an expanded body, like feathers, like growing wings. Then some of the men around made her to wear a mask and a kind of hat (or tocado) made with two long feathers, looking from afar it looked possibly like a rabbit, but I’m sure it was more like trying to be some kind of bird, probably an eagle. The last addition was a hand drum, a large circular hand drum, which she started to play rhythmically while singing. A sound that even with the noisy crowd surrounding us we all could listening to very clear. The small bushes were already on fire.

The now transformed shaman started to dance or moving rhythmically all around the place touching some people, hitting some others with the drum and with the stick, sometimes falling to the floor and going again to jump rhythmically. Someone lighted the main bush and a great fire took the main stage. Probably it was the night, the wind or the movements around, but that great fire got to my eyes the shape of some human and animal forms: the animistic world was there and think we all there were living in it as well. 

I guess watching the next images you will agree with me about those shapes of the big fire that night.

My hands were almost frozen and even with my boots -made especially for very low temperatures- I was feeling my feet very cold. The Mongolian men and women usually bigger and taller than in other regions of the world could easily push me back, and in one moment I was totally out of any good visual point. I had seen enough for that night. I had spent two hours there and it was impossible to watch more in the middle of that chaos and extreme cold. 

The guide was looking for me and took me with the other people from the group to a ger to feel warm, drinking a hot beverage and resting a little before going back to the camp. 

My thoughts all that night were in that impressive experience. It had been visually powerful, yes, rich in sounds, my mind was twisted from the conscious to the unconscious world. It had been a theatrical spectacle, a real live performance, a touristic event, but, I cannot exaggerate this, also a powerful ritual with a main shaman-performer who transformed herself -and the space around her- exactly in front of me.

I noticed that I was a spectator, but also a participant with all the other locals and tourists. Also, in my ignorance of the reasons for this event, I was participating in a ritual and in a spectacle. 

I had the references of a bunch of documentaries, books about shamanism (you know, Eliade and company), teachers talks about the origins of the theatrical performer, and my own experience with some kind of sessions with healers in Mexico, but I had never experienced anything like this in such a remote place of the world: a mix between theatre, ritual and an anthropological happening. 

Yes, my personal research about the sources of Butoh and the performer itself has brought me to many impressive parts of the world, and this is one is a memorable one.

(Hvoglod Lake, Northern Mongolia. Saturday March 2nd, 2019)

*

Days after that experience went to the National Museum in Ulaanbaatar and I could see some dolls with costumes similar to that of the shaman in lake Khovsgol. Here the photographs.

(All photographs by Gustavo Thomas © 2019)

Nantokashite (Mutsumi and Neiro’s Butoh Workshop in Hirai)

Since I met Mutsumi and Neiro at Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio six years ago, in 2013, I’ve been following their professional career through social networks. I saw their first works together, how they independized from Yoshito Ohno, their tours outside Japan, and how they stablished their own studio. I’ve been interested because when we met in 2013 they showed to me a very different approach to Butoh than others colleagues at the studio, a kind of compromise beyond the enjoyment of free dance.

So, when I was planning this current study trip to Japan I wanted to meet them again, watch them performing and visit their studio, and so far I’ve done everything. 

Going to Hirai is relatively easy but far from where I am staying, it is in the other extreme of Tokyo, between a big open river and an industrial zone. They live close to their studio (like Kazuo before and Yoshito Ohno now). Their studio is a tiny but lovely and cozy place, an adapted storage house, full of what I call “perceptible Butoh energy”: the floor, the windows, the books, the photos of the masters, costumes, things.

I was lucky to be the only student; they were not going to give a workshop this week because of personal problems, but I told them that I was leaving Japan soon and they kindly offered me to do the workshop only for me.

We did three exercises and one improvisation:

-Standing still, feeling the space.

-Walking with a simple movement of arms while feeling the edges of our skin.

-Walking with a glass full of water.

-A 20-minute free improvisation.

Depicted like this it seems very simple and, if you are familiar with Yoshito Ohno’s workshops, all the exercises recall you what many have worked at Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio.

What made them different and, in some way, special for me this time, was something I also felt when I saw their performance two weeks ago: congruency and deep exploration. Each exercise at Mutsumi and Neiro workshop has to be explored in a very deep and compromised way, like their own work on stage. Slowliness here is not a technical exigence, but a result of the compromise they ask you to have while doing the exploration. It is not just doing it, but putting everything you have and being completely in it. The total exigence in Kazuo Ohno’s work.  Neiro even mentioned a Japanese word for this, nantokashite.

I didn’t expect that their workshop was going to be the hardest I would experience during this trip in Japan -and I’ve taken many, believe me- but it was. I think we found the reason during our talk while dining (delicious Mutsumis’s cooking) after: nantokashite. I was expecting the relaxed way Yoshito Ohno works his workshops, just making the proposition and let it go on free dancing without judgment or with minimal observations. Instead Mutsumi and Neiro work with Yoshito’s wisdom and with Kazuo’s exigence; they put me in line within my own compromise with Butoh, with my own body, and my own work with just some direct sentences. I have to admit it, that was hard. 

Simple, deep, serious like their own performance. 

Yes, the homemade dinner Mutsumi cooked after was delicious, the talk a little bit more and the dessert was saying good bye with a memorable selfie. 

Walking to the train station over the enormous river I saw the moon, the same moon we used to dance every session at Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio with Yoshito Ohno. Now the moon and its reflection is also in Hirai, I’m probably carrying a little bit of it on me.

(Saturday February 23rd, 2019)

Light, darkness and the inner light (Seisaku’s Workshop)

 

My last session at Yuri & Seisaku’s Butoh workshop couldn’t be more touching exploring darkness and light as impulse of the movement.

When Seisaku explored for first time this exercise Hijikata made him stay seated under the sun for two hours, Seisaku told us in that mythical way all talk about that time when Hijikata was alive.

After Yuri guided the physical training, we worked the exercises of today’s Butoh:

-Seated with one knee in the floor to keep ourselves active we explored light and darkness: light, receiving from the sun, up; darkness attracting our body down to the earth, covered by layers of darkness.

-Light and darkness, sky and earth, day and night, one after the other.

-Feeding ourselves of light (wholes with lights in the room).

-Looking for the lights (light coming in through the windows), those sources of light afar, from the buildings, from the street and again feeding our bodies with those lights.

-With wholes of lights all over the studio and windows opened looking for parts of the body absorbing the light, one by one.

-Walking in a forest full with fireflies, looking for them; two fireflies are in our stomach, so we can attract easily the others to our bodies.

-The night, the stars, the forest, fireflies flying into our body one by one flying all over or body, till be hundreds inside.

-Balls of light around attract us, threads of light linking those balls of light to our bodies.

-Holding a ball of light in front of us, the light of the ball (which is no more a spherical material object) shows us our family inside, it is the light of our best family moments that lightens our face.

Many moments during the exercises were remarkable, memorable, touching, full of… light.

After the workshop we went to an Okinawa’s food restaurant to have dinner, I said good bye to them and we took the impossible to forget selfie all together.

A little note apart:

I asked Seisaku if he had seen Hijikata’s choreography performance of Tohoku Kabuki Plan IV, as I watched the video yesterday at the Hijikata Archive, and he told me that he actually had performed in that show, and described some actions and reactions. Well, what can I say? Simple that speaks for itself the importance of me being on his side learning from the line of the original fathers.

(Thursday February 21st, 2019)

The path of patience (Small changes during Yoshito Ohno’s Butoh workshop)

I didn’t come to Japan to take Butoh intensive workshops, but to experience the common ground of studying and practicing Butoh with the masters at their places in their common routines. I’m committed to accept the way they teach and share their experiences, and then I’ll go back to my own work, and no more. 

Until now Yoshito Ohno’s workshop has been one of those places where I experienced more inner fights with my Western idea of how a workshop should be and how a teacher should teach. First, going twice a week to Kamihoshikawa from where I’m staying in Tokyo is exhausting; I make two hour travel to go and two going back from door to door. Exhausting probably is also the word to describe the unique style of Yoshito Ohno’s Butoh workshop these days: every time he repeats almost the same propositions to improvise, every time with the same words and choose of music, or at least you feel that way till the moment you start to spot the differences, and when some new proposition comes it is like breathing an air of freshness and novelty.

It wasn’t always that way. I remember my first two times coming to study Butoh with him, he had a quite a varied list of propositions to improvise and he used to be a very long time speecher, but these days he only uses a little group of propositions with minimum speech. 

This is the main structure (all accompanied by music, always the same song for every proposition):

-standing still, we are a work of art;

-meeting the space, the place where Kazuo Ohno created his dances;

-looking for a long range space, dancing in contact with places long afar.

-creating a silent night for the children of the war;

-feeling the blessing and suffering of the Virgin Mary;

-the Japanese characters for body and the body like bamboo;

-four Japanese characters for emotions;

-holding hands together the whole group with Moonlight Sonata and then dancing individually.

This has been almost the same structure since I came in mid January, but some changes happened: 

-he could insist in keeping the same proposition for two or three songs;

-regularly on Tuesday nights a colleague musician plays the guitar and sings while we dance;

-sometimes Yoshito feels the need to dance with us and he does do it;

-and also sometimes, like today, he proposes other improvisations: feeling the tissue and with it the space between our hands; being a flower holding a rose; or using a piece of silk like if the silk texture was our body. 

Today, for instance, he shared more about the impact Kazuo Ohno had in Antony, from Antony and the Johnsons, and we danced with the piece of silk during three songs from the album the musician dedicated to Ohno. And we finished dancing with the tissue. Those were remarkable changes indeed!

After the workshop -he always stays seated near where the CDs are- I approached him and told him I wanted to see what more music he had there, I was curious of course; then I saw an album of Edith Piaf and I expressed my excitement about watching that album there. He asked me to give him the CD, what I did, and asked his assistant to put the music on. After two minutes he was already at the center of the studio wearing a lady’s hat and danced La Vie en Rose. Moving around slowly and sometimes losing his balance Yoshito performed mostly with his left hand and his head, with his eyes. Our old master was inspired today.

Finally, during the tea time, I showed everyone some photos of a lovely Sakura in blossom I stumbled upon at Ueno park, and Yoshito told (in Japanese) to Michiyuki Kato, a dear colleague whos fidelity to the workshop is absolute since many years ago, that at the house garden there was a tree in blossom and he could take me to watch it. It was an Ume tree, a Plum, blossoming ahead of season to and in front of what used to be the last Kazuo Ohno’s bedroom. 

What I’m trying to share, personal experience aside, is that there is some sensitivity that comes when we are open to feel it. Accepting what the workshop is these days, be because Yoshito’s old age or illness, be because it is what it is now, those small changes make a great difference between sessions. It is a training, of course, my training. You know, after some years of working at any field, that not every day can be a new day, but repetition with some changes, with some details, will be the common daily experience. The eyes and ears of our body must be open to those small changes. It is a question of some quotidian deep personal introspection and care. 

That’s when we are rewarded by those simple but remarkable details, not by big new worlds, but by small pieces of land coming from the path of patience.

(Sunday February 17th, 2019)