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”.
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)
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