Archivo de la etiqueta: Butoh

The cry of the newborn

 

Journal of my Butoh training week

(Last week of August)

 

Kazuo Ohno:

“Naturally, the older I grow, the more experienced I become. My body can’t stay still. There’s no point denying that as we grow older, our bodies gradually wither away. Yet, irrespective of our physical state, life is ever present. That’s why I believe it essential that dance reflects the reality of ageing. All and well for younger performers to dwell upon the physical aspects of dance, but for older performers the spiritual aspect dominates. With a minimum of physical exertion, we can sustain ourselves until the very end. At a younger age we don’t need to concern ourselves with that reality, but we should be mindful of it. The essential thing is that dance embody the cry of the newborn, this comes about with repeated training and discipline. A mother’s love for her child manifests itself without the slightest thought. Younger dancers need to realise that. By concentrating only on the technical aspects, their dance will not engage us. Dance has to confront us with the question: Why are we here? If we stifle our feelings, we won’t get through to the audience. Crying plays a cathartic role. We should cry until we’ve shed all our tears so as to spiritually renew ourselves. I wonder the secret of health lies in our capacity to live life to the full. As I grow older, my dance evolves in a way that reflects this reality. My physical force is on the wane, my flesh slowly withers. I’m now experiencing things that I never did previously, with each and every step I’m learning something new and experience aspects of life that I didn’t in my younger years. It’s quite a revelation. In my youth, I had youthful passions, and so too in my later years. I’m not saying that one of them is better. They are essentially different. One has to embrace them accordingly, when young, one dances in a spring like way, as I reach the closing years of my life, my dance should convey the reality of my years, the older I get, the more my dance needs to embody the cry of the newborn. An elderly performer whose work doesn’t reflect this reality should give up.” (1)

 

So powerful words based in a more powerful and deep experiences! What can I do with this as a practical approach in my work?

Of course, at the beginning, the idea of embracing ageing was closer to me and I was aware of it during this week’s trainings, putting all my attention in my physical effort, in my physical pain, in my physical limits because of my age; but as the passing of the days I started to bring other texts and ideas while re-reading Kazuo’s words: “the cry of the new born” was then acquiring major importance, probably because it was action more than words, a closer physical image to any other of that speech.

In the video “Beauty and Strength: Kazuo Ohno” produced by the NHK, Kazuo Ohno decided to start with a peculiar scene: at his studio during one of his daily workshops he’s giving a speech on how dance should be like the cry of a baby that communicates in a primeval form with his mother. For that purpose he asked to bring one of his grandsons to the studio and let him play freely with Yoshito and him in a total improvised dance. The image is clarifying and powerful because we can see how the child is free in his behaviour with the two adults who are dancing but playing with him at the same time. It is a mix of improvised lively chaos and strong artistic structure. The scene itself could not be memorable, speaking in an artistic sense, if we don’t ask ourselves why Kazuo decided to start a video, produced by the NHK on his successful career, exactly with that improvisation, (even risking his position as a remarkable performer) if not because that was a concrete illustration of what Butoh and dance was to him, a real introduction fo all his work. There was no cry, but the point was clear to me.

I remember then that experience Eugenio Barba depicts in one of his texts about a horse brought to the stage in an almost forgettable play he was watching when he was a child, and how that incursion gave it an idea of total life in the middle of a dead stage full of actors. We all know that same feeling when a child is on the stage and steals all the professional work of the actors just because he/she is more alive, because he/she is not trying to do anything, he/she is there.

When I was at Kazuo Ohno Studio in Kamihoshikawa, Yoshito Ohno let me watch some family videos about Kazuo’s performances. One specially brought my attention: it was a performance Kazuo gave at a seniors care house. After one or two musical pieces dancing, wearing those characteristic old women dresses, I saw a moment of brightness (if I can say that), a moment that changed all my perception of what I was watching in that moment. Difficult to explain, the only thing is I can say is that it was if like a door was open at that moment and some energy or light come out from Kazuo’s body, moment that lasted for no more than two minutes I remember. Was that “the cry of the new born”? Now I believe it was, and also Barba’s horse and the child playing.

That moment is not a technique itself but an advice, it’s actually a research, a continuous research in our practice of Butoh. Like that moment of truth Peter Brook talks about when rehearsing (See his video “The rope”). The director and the actors should work and rehearse not because they have to repeat everything, but because they are waiting for the moment when life becomes action, when it comes out from the source, and everything we do on stage should be in a state of awareness to catch that moment.

My training then became, this week, a structure of physical movements, exercises, rehearsals of my inner choreographies, my art crafting, while waiting for that moment. My work only counts if I am aware of the real research, if I am aware of the moment I can be in communication with the cry of the newborn and be like a light, with the moment a horse enters to the scene stealing all the attention with his body full of life.

 

 

 

Main Image: © Kazuo Ohno Archive Network.
(1) Kazuo Ohno interviewed by the NHK, 1993.
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El camino de los maestros muertos (el camino que me llevó al encuentro con el Butoh)

A principios de este 2018 apenas estaba por establecerme en Guangzhou, mi nueva ciudad, cuando Haydé Lachino me invitó a escribir un artículo para la revista que ella dirige en México, Interdanza, revista que se ha convertido en poco tiempo bajo la dirección de Haydé, en un referente de la danza en México, entre muchas razones por su profesionalismo y conocimiento y porque es un proyecto que financiado por el gobierno es totalmente gratuito y electrónico, es decir prácticamente al alcance de todos aquellos interesados en la danza.

La propuesta del artículo era sobre mi encuentro con el Butoh, y no podía caerme más a la mano, porque estoy en el proceso de crear mi primer texto teórico (personal) sobre la creación dentro del Butoh, así que una introducción como esta me fue de primordial importancia para definir las razones de mi interés y mi práctica dentro de esta disciplina que ahora ocupa la mayor parte de mi vida creativa.

Por supuesto que el artículo se lee en la revista misma publicada en el número 54 del mes de agosto de este año, a través de este link: El camino de los maestros muertos (Interdanza) pero quería, como siempre, hacerlo patente en mi blog como una exposición del documento mismo.

 

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Be a doctor

 

Kazuo Ohno: “On coming off stage I feel much better than before I go on. Before I complain of a backache, or a sore neck, but these all seem to disappear once I step out on stage, it’s like a panacea for all my pains and woes because body and soul move unite and move as one, this bring joy and comfort to the audience and moves them in a meaningful way. In this sense, dance act as a doctor for both performer and spectator. It’s like a cure-all for our ailments. It fully revitalizes me.”

 

Jerzy Grotowski said that one of the origins of our profession is the “shaman”, that magician-doctor that performs in front of the sick with the goal of healing the body and soul. 

It is also a common idea among our profession (performing arts) this healing process during acting or dancing or singing, and it is possible that the cerebral state we reach during our performing involves the liberation of substances related to different processes of self-healing, or at least some kind of sedatives like the body liberates during rituals or trances.

It is interesting that Kazuo Ohno felt the same way just because dancing with the idea of doing it with body and soul united. What it is perhaps more interesting for me is that he says that the result of this union of dancing with body and soul together “brings joy and comfort to the audience and moves them in a meaningful way”. It is where the performer and the doctor-magician mixed together. Here, we find a technique of “projection” on stage in Kazuo’s Butoh, to reach the spectator without thinking on it, -just as the movement coming from the inner impulse-. If we work/dance with our body and soul united then the result will inevitably be healing and touching, to our selves and to the spectators. What else do we want? 

 

Training

Keeping it simple I’ve only worked with the idea of unite body and soul: listening always music in a random way I started from breathing imagining being impulsed to movement, then to walking, then reaching different levels between the sky and the earth. Probably didn’t think more about body and soul, but the initial idea was working in every moment. After some time entered very in contact with my inner lines of movement forgetting probably the breathing part, because now images were taking part of as basic elements of the impulse. Images were sprouting inside and outside the body, following the music, the rhythm of images following the rhythm of the music, until realizing I was doing some kind of free improvisation.

I didn’t have spectators and I didn’t have any ache before starting my training, so I couldn’t say that Kazuo’s technique worked, but I know I felt good, satisfied, and in some way better. I’ll have to wait till that moment I expose myself on stage to the public again, and probably, during my Butoh, I’ll become not only the healer but the healed too. Then Nietzsche, the great, will be brought to live and say: here you are, the poet and the reader united has reborn again.

 

 

The Languid Fall (Short Extract From Languid Bodies)

Now that I’m looking for a place to perform again my Butoh and Video work ‘Languid Bodies’ in China, I recovered a video from one specific performance show in Morelia, Michoacán, México, recorded in 2016.

Even though my Butoh performances are mostly improvised (but with a defined structure), I thought a short part of this video could work as a taste for the live performance.

This short ‘The languid fall’ is part of the third (of seven) section named Violence.

The Languid Fall (Languid Bodies) from Gustavo Thomas on Vimeo.

If you are in China you can see the video on Youku:

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMzYxODc0OTY4OA==.html?spm=a2hzp.8244740.0.0

 

THE OLD HORSE

 

Kazuo Ohno: “I don’t try to hide my age, it is like if I was watching myself. I saw a book in Dresden that had the image of an old and tired horse; I felt as if my whole life was inside that horse.

In that picture the horse was moving; there was also an old tree and a fruit of life was sprouting from it. The horse ran on the fallen leaves of the tree, they watched him running. Where is that picture? It is within me. This horse runs inside me.” *

Kazuo Ohno Horse Drawing Dresden
The drawing of the Old Horse. Still Photography from a video: Interview to Kazuo Ohno. NHK, 1993.

 

Kazuo Ohno saw this picture during the 1980s and he kept the image and the impression all the time with him. When Peter Sempel finally realized the documentary “Kazuo Ohno: Dance into the Light”* (he was filming Ohno during more than 10 years, I understand) Kazuo Ohno was ill but still dancing even when his legs couldn’t respond anymore. The images in that documentary show master Ohno from his 80s until almost his death around 100. At the last part of the documentary it shows to us one very old man with a deep inner world, almost in a perpetual state of inspiration or meditation, perhaps even pain. The image of the old horse was within him all the time and, yes, he was still dancing and the horse was still running inside him.

I’ve been training with these images and words for almost two weeks, and I have not had, at anytime, the feeling of being that old horse,-maybe that’s good, maybe not-. On the contrary, what was striking to me was the feeling of strength I was gaining with every day of training passing, as if those sentences were a kind of talisman to gain force. In one moment today, when iI was on the floor dancing without using my legs, like Kazuo in his last years, I thought that I was probably preparing myself for the years to come, for the illness, for the moment I will need the image of the old horse running on the young falling leaves of the tree. I felt motivated, yes, inspired by the old man-horse that master Ohno was.

Sometimes I have to assume my inner magic world, and don’t ask more reasons, and avoid logic. 

I’m grateful that the words of the master are powerful and that power works for me. 

 

 

 

*1-Interview with Kazuo Ohno in “Kazuo Ohno, the last emperor of dance” by Gustavo Collini Sartor. Original in Spanish:

Kazuo Ohno: “No trato de ocultar mi vejez, es como si me estuviese viendo a mi mismo. Yo vi en Dresden un libro que tenía la imagen de un caballo viejo y cansado; sentí como si toda mi vida estuviera dentro de ese caballo.

En aquella imagen el caballo se estaba moviendo; había también un viejo árbol al que le estaba brotando el fruto de la vida. El caballo corría sobre las hojas caídas del árbol, éstas lo observaban correr. ¿Donde se encuentra esa imagen? Está dentro de mí. Este caballo corre por mi interior.” (Entrevista a Kazuo Ohno en “Kazuo Ohno, el último emperador de la danza” de Gustavo Collini Sartor.)

*2-“Kazuo Ohno: Dance into the Light” by Peter Sempel. You can watch the whole documentary in youtube: https://youtu.be/9ZCVFaouZR8

 

(These texts -and experiences- are part of my daily Butoh training, trying to make some sense of something which probably has absolutely no sense.)

#Butoh #theory #arttechnique #KazuoOhno #Butohtechnique #PeterSempel #Life #OldAge 

El filósofo poeta entre la muerte y la vida (Bitácora de trabajo)

Kazuo Ohno:

“En los últimos momentos de alegría y de tristeza 

los ojos del muerto están totalmente abiertos, 

pero no ven las cosas. 

La eternidad en medio del instante. 

En ese instante, ¿qué será lo que ven los ojos? 

La muerte y el sueño sin parientes, 

La vida en la gracia de la muerte 

Y la muerte dentro de la vida 

Siguen creciendo, 

Generando vida de la fuente de la vida. 

Se genera una enciclopedia de la vida.” *

 

En mi práctica de hoy inicié viendo (¿o siendo?) los ojos de un muerto muy querido, abiertos con la eternidad entera en ellos cuando todo parecía ya terminado en este mundo. De alguna manera, y con ese punto de partida escabroso, esperaba un acto de remembranza dolorosa pero no lo fue. Mi movimiento interno fluyó directo a la vida con mucho juego y placer; en este caso, y siguiendo la palabras del maestro, fue la alegría la que absorbió el camino del entrenamiento de hoy.

Sí, su autobiografía es críptica, con tintes poéticos; tal vez haya sido así por su imposibilidad de expresar claramente sus ideas en un mundo que estuvo cultivando, en la búsqueda de la luz, dentro de la confusión y la oscuridad del Universo.

La poesía como el ensueño creativo (ensueño cósmico diría Bachelard) son parte intrínseca del Butoh de Kazuo Ohno, sus preguntas son las preguntas que sólo un filósofo poeta podría hacerse.

 

 

 

 

*(Extractos de la autobiografía de Kazuo Ohno en “Kazuo Ohno, el último emperador de la danza” de Gustavo Collini.)
Fotografía: Pintura al óleo con Kazuo Ohno en su última convalecencia. Pintor Atsushi Suwa http://atsushisuwa.com/gallery/g-tables/ohno/o-top.html
(Estos textos son parte de mi bitácora de trabajo de entrenamiento diario. En mi estudio los escribo a partir de lo que leo, recuerdo y exploro; en donde la filosofía de la vida y la práctica del arte me mantienen a flote en el proceso de creación de una personal concepción práctica del Butoh.)

#Butoh #KazuoOhno #muerte #técnicadeButoh #poesía #filosofíadelButoh

My impressions on “Period” Natural Physical Poem. A walking-Butoh performance by Mushimaru Fujieda at Un Teatro In Mexico City.

I watched Mushimaru Fujieda’s Butoh for first time 5 hours before this performance and I can say that the difference was astonishing between one another.

At 1 pm on Saturday he presented, with the people from a short workshop he gave the day before, a Butoh demonstration at Museo Nacional de las Culturas in Mexico City Downtown and what I saw there was a very basic taste of what Butoh could be: a long slow-motion walk with a very curious, playful performer showing good skills in balance, face gestuality and very deep eyes. But five hours later at Un Teatro his performance “Period” was much more interesting and it totally showed me why he calls himself a “physical poet”.

 

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Mushimaru Fujieda. Museo Nacional de las Culturas. Mexico City. December 2nd, 2017. (Photograph by Gustavo Thomas © 2017)

 

As the description of the performance says, it was an almost hour-long walking-Butoh where I could see and experience a gradual, little by little, step by step transformation from an almost empty body doing a heavy – and almost painful – slow-motion walk, into a living human being with a deep richness of images and emotions in motion within him. The first steps of the long walk were like listening to someone babbling, trying to make sense of his own universe. Working masterfully with the tempo on stage, Fujieda was carrying us, the spectators, with him in his walk. Every detail of his movement started to make sense in our own individual perception, every detail started to have a real repercussion in our inner movement like it were a peaceful contemplation or meditation. In the final part, we found ourselves immersed in the words of the recorded poem we were listening to, parts of it in English and parts in other languages, experiencing the mess of feelings and ideas he was producing and that we shared as human beings living in this time and place. In that moment, he had literally become a “Natural physical poem” for me.

Obviously, Mushimaru Fujieda, is not interested in making himself any concessions in doing a spectacular performance of his work; he never tried to trick us, the spectators, to feel another – theatrical – reality. He was basically “writing” in his own slow way, becoming with that a kind of poetic magnet on stage.

The second part of the show was an improvisation together with a very skillful guitarist, but I have to admit that I considered the first part of “Period” as the night’s most interesting.

In two weeks I’ll be taking his workshop in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, and I am very thankful I decided to do that before moving away from Mexico once more.

“Period” has one more show at Un Teatro today, Sunday, at 6 PM. There will also be another workshop and performance at the Templo Budista Ekoji (a Buddhist Temple) in the coming days here in Mexico City.

Mushimaru Fujieda came to Mexico thanks to the work of Sakiko Yokoo and Espartaco Martínez.

Gustavo Thomas (© 2017)

 

#Butoh #MushimaruFujieda #Performance #UnTeatro #MuseoNacionaldelasCulturas #MexicoCity #PhysicalPoet