Archivo de la categoría: Performance

The person becoming a body (Kudo Taketeru improvised performance during a concrete music concert)

When I wrote my email to reserve my place for this event I received a reply saying that this was not going to be a proper performance, but only “a gig”. Then at his worksop Kudo told me that it was going to be something simple, just a 15 minute improvisation. 

As I’d never seen him performing live before I didn’t care, I’d already made my mind to assist, and also because I know when a butohka says that it’s going to be a short improvisation it’s always a false statement, it never happens that way.

This was an improvised performance with two musicians playing what I call concrete music (but it could be only contemporary music; sorry for my ignorance), with chords and percussions, and Kudo Taketeru as a dancer.

At the beginning I felt that Kudo was listening and reacting to the sounds, looking for a way to follow the difficult noise; he was acting in some way, so I was watching a person on stage, not even a transformed actor. 

When he was a person little happened to me, even I had the impression that he was trying to be humorous unsuccessfully, curiously avoiding theatrically. Then after some 15 minutes (maybe more) of heating actions and repetitions he took off his clothes. It is when everything changed in front of us.

We saw a naked body now (just wearing a tiny thong), no more a person; he was a body, only a body. I don’t remember have seen that transformation since Ko Murobushi performances in the 1990s, with the difference that Ko was less theatrical, more primitive probably.

The moment we saw Kudo’s body naked he became movement, impulsive physical -improvised- actions; jumpings, falls, tremors, knocks on the walls, lashes on the walls, hits on the wall, we forgot the person to put all our attention in the moving body. Sometimes in the heat of the improvisation of that body the actor appeared again but this time using his masterful theatrical skills (if I can make it like that) becoming for instants a demon, an animal, a monster, a theatrical physical image, then erased the actor to be again only that body in those impulsive actions.

Kudo’s body is a spectacle when moving on stage too, because of how he moves, yes, but mostly for how it looks: big and heavy bonnes and developed muscles with almost no fat, skin with no hair, strong legs, strong gluteals, thin but muscular torso, long black hair, a big mouth, big hands (with long fingers), strong feet, so particular eyes that seems to have strabismus. He was sweating profusely and used that sweat on his improvisation like an expansion of his body, like a costume.

The music, as I said before, was difficult, improvised and interesting but complex, free but with some monotony coming directly from its style; never a melody, never sentimental feeling; there was no melodrama here, no sentimentalism, no way for a deep musical introspection, only flux of sound, running energy, noisy jumps and stops with a half of second of silence and then noise again. Kudo worked all the time listening to the music, with fluidity too, but sometimes with only external pace of movement. In one moment I felt the music started to follow him.

He was the king on that stage by that time.

There were climax, two or three perhaps. I remember one especially powerful because Kudo didn’t let it go away. That’s when the body he had become transformed itself in a demon, not a ghost because never was airy, it was a body becoming a demon of flesh. 

Yes, we had to wait for this moment for quite a long in terms of performance time, watching the person, the actor going in many ways, trying many forms, but it was worth the wait. 

(Atelier Dai Q Geijutsu, Tokyo. Thursday February 14th, 2019)

Anuncios

“Ginbasha” and “Neiro Superlight” by Mutsumi and Neiro (My impressions of the performance)

I went to see “Dance in February” by Mutsumi & Neiro, two dear colleagues I met at Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio almost six years ago during my second travel to study Butoh in Japan. 

The work is simple in its structure, two choreographies (if we want to call them like that) or solo parts, “Ginbasha” and “Neiro Superlight” linked by only one powerful thing, the humanity of the characters/performers. I chose the word ‘humanity’ because most Butoh techniques today try precisely to erase the humanity of the body looking for a primitive nature of it or as many say “killing it”.

This was also not an improvised work but most of it was as fresh as it was improvised, alive as it was the first time they were doing those movements on the stage. But freshness, even as a possible quality of the work, was not the essential thing here. What it was striking for me, touching in many senses, was that they were two worlds doing things, yes, two worlds walking, cleaning, seating, jumping, dancing, watching; two profound microcosmos living on stage, moving their bodies like simple people but in such complexity that only they as performers could do it. And if that was remarkable they didn’t look like they were dancing.

He, dressed with a shirt with no sleeves, white underwear and a clownesque tocado on the head; his skin painted in white and his face lightly remind us a circus performer. She, dressed with many layers of clothes, a wig and a delicate hat with almost no make up, ending with only one brilliant blue leotard.

It was obvious that this was not a normal choreography of Butoh or even a theatrical story, but a piece of two characters. Yes, the presence of the performers was as profound as if they were two well constructed characters. So, in one moment I thought, -this is absurd, there are doing almost nothing but showing us what they are, this is like Theatre of the Absurd. What I’m watching is like a piece written by Beckett with Beckettian characters, with all the absurdity that means watching two human beings alive completely elaborated by the passing of time and the weight of the world over them-.

Watching Neiro and Mutsumi performing their Butoh was watching the masks, the alive costumes of two human beings, who are not capable of changing anything but just living those layers of life. It was sweet, painful, deep, absurd again, and touching but never moved us to tears. Each one of them had soul on stage and that soul moved us around their deep works. 

Here we don’t see any kind of parafernalia of the body, anything but sutil transformation, like -comparisons aside- Kazuo Ohno performing his mother or La Argentina. If there were skills showing in this “technique” that Mutsumi and Neiro used it those were from inner nature, from the soul; they were acrobats of the soul.

I’m happy to have seen this particular Butoh performance, because they are a good reason to understand that the other path in Butoh is alive, that path coming from Kazuo Ohno’s work and that it is full of humanity and artistic endeavour.

Uri Omoni ‘My mother’ (My impressions)


At the beginning it is strange to watch, it is difficult, it is not easy to get the code of the movement. I realised that I had no instruments to critize the dance I was watching.
I was only a witness of the difficulty a handicapped body had to move on that stage. Between being sleepy and being looking for a sense I started noticing details of that movement, of that new offer to my virgin eyes: her legs completely relaxed but with her feet alive; one hand more expressive than the other but with fingers that could twist like Balinese dancer; those deep black eyes; the impossible shape of the back.

My mind was twisted too, anxious, waiting perhaps for that body to become ‘normal’, agile, skilled and then I could use my educated filters and known artistic parameters to enjoy it.

I had to let it go, waiting for something to happen was not going to be the way.

When that body spoke, when that body was carried out to and in to the stage by black shadows (like in traditional Noh theatre or Bunraku), it changed clothes, played drums, then I saw that the ill body had become the body of a hero, the body of a mythological Titan. Yes, the presence I was watching moving on that stage became immense, and me, I was only a humble and weak ‘normal’ body witnessing the prowess of the unique, because I knew I will never move in that way, I will never dance like that body, because I’m simply incapable of doing it. I don’t have the divine conditions that body has.

The last choreography was she dressed as a beautiful lady, a Madonna perhaps, with an enormous paper flower as a tocado on the hair dancing a painful Aria like she was singing it.
I only let my tears drop on that espace, and I was grateful for being there.

This was a dance performance linked to the handicapped body performed by a handicapped dancer. A dance influenced by Butoh no doubt, but probably -if we understand some of the original Tatsumi Hijikata’s words- a dance that is one of the sources of our dear Butoh.

(The Suzunari Theatre, Tokyo, Japan. Saturday February 9th, 2019)

The Year I’ve Left Behind…

 

2018 was the year of a new China in my life. I came to live in China again, this time in Guangzhou. Surprisingly I found a very well developed and livable city, until the moment I wanted to create something. Living in an authoritarian society is not easy and I had a taste of it. Even though many things happened, I’m still here. So, I’ve done a short visual retrospective around my creative life in the year I’ve left behind:

 

– In March I did my first Butoh work in Guangzhou at a highway underpass in Ersha Island.

– In June I presented the first phase of my Photo-performance project “Pride Chinese Style” at the gallery of the Mexican Consulate in Guangzhou, with photographs and a performance mixing Tango and Butoh. We also gave a second performance in July.

The website of the whole project: https://gustavothomasteatr.wixsite.com/pridechinesestyle

– In July I started a Photo-performance project with my colleagues of “Humedad Expansiva” in Mexico City aimed for an audiovisual festival in November, doing a live streaming video Butoh performance from China to Mexico. We documented the first streaming transmitted from the South China Botanical Garden in Guangzhou. The project finally didn’t get the support from the Mexican government.

– In August an article I wrote about my encounter with Butoh and my first masters was published in the Mexican magazine Interdanza, thanks to the invitation of Haydé Lachino.

The link to the magazine number: https://archive.org/details/RevistaInterdanza54_201808/page/n13

-In August too I went to Java in Indonesia and performed two Butoh improvisations, one at some rice-field terraces and another one at Sewu, a Buddhist temple inside the Prambanan temple complex.

-In October I had everything ready for a series of performances of my Butoh work “Languid Bodies” at the Watermelon Theatre in Guangzhou, but the day of the first presentation the police arrived and closed the theatre, banning the performance. The reason? That it allegedly was an LGTBQ art work, and therefore not in accordance with China’s values. Even though they were mistaken and there was no LGBTQ content, there was nothing I could do to save the presentations. Luckily for me Chinese photographer Xu Shenghua was at the final rehearsal and documented my presence in Guangzhou through many amazing images.

The website of the work: https://gustavothomasteatr.wixsite.com/languidbodies

The website of the photographs taken by Xu Shenghua: https://gustavothomasbutohblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/photographies-shot-by-xu-shenghua-of-my-butoh-work-languid-bodies-in-guangzhou/

– Days later, also in October, I “escaped” to South Korea and performed three Butoh improvisations at marvelous Seoraksan National Park: One at the top of a mountain, one near a simple natural spot, and the third one at the Buddhist temple where I was staying.

– In November I continued my Photo-performance project in Guangzhou, this time with a photo session around the famous Cantonese dress known as Qipao or Cheongsam, posting the results of this exploration in the website of the project.

The webpage with this phase of the project: https://gustavothomasteatr.wixsite.com/pridechinesestyle/qipao

-Finally, in December I travelled to Sichuan Province’s Mount Emei, one Buddhism’s four sacred mountains in China, at which summit I performed a very simple photo Butoh session by some solitary corners of the main temple.

 

2019 looks mysterious to me, with hidden possibilities about what I may do in China with all the censorship around; but luckily, there are many other points of encounter around the world and some windows are bound to open for me. 

Photographies shot by Xu Shenghua of my Butoh work “Languid Bodies” in Guangzhou.

Even though last October 2018 my performances at The Watermelon Theatre in Guangzhou  were cancelled by the government (I cannot say exactly why yet), I had the good luck to have the photographer Xu Shenghua taking dozens of magnificent photographies with his Leica analogue camera at the last rehearsal.

I want to share all those photos in this Butoh blog.

Here you are.