A feast of Japanese ‘Butoh’ dancePerformers with white makeup on their faces give exaggerated smiles as they dance in unison ― to complete silence.
The ghostly looking figures in white bodysuits move slowly to particular rhythms. Suddenly, music blares and the dancers leap frantically around the stage.
This is butoh, a type of contemporary dance from Japan, which is being introduced for the first time on a major scale to Korean audiences starting this weekend.
Butoh was first performed in Japan in the late 1950s, inspired in part by the theatrical traditions and dances of the Modernist and Dada movements, cultural trends that became popular in the early 20th century. For Japan in particular, the dance was considered to reflect the nihilism and sense of defeat after World War II.
South Korea has now invited a series of Japanese dance companies to introduce Butoh here. Although a few experts came to Seoul during the early 1990s, this is said to be the largest such gathering ever in this country.
Among the groups appearing here is Dairakudakan, one of the largest dance companies in Japan. They will perform a piece called “The Sea-dappled Horse” tomorrow and Sunday at the Main Hall of the National Theater of Korea.
The dance, choreographed by Akaji Maro, premiered in 1982 in Avignon, France, quickly becoming famous in Europe. Mr. Maro is also an actor who appeared in “Kill Bill,” directed by Quentin Tarantino, and in “Summer in Kikujiro” by Kitano Takeshi.
Other Japanese dance companies participating in the festival include Ki & Edge, Akira Kasai, Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club and Naoka Uemura.
Akira Kasai, a highly acclaimed Butoh dancer, will perform “Pollen Revolution” on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Small Hall of the National Theater of Korea.
The festival has been planned as part of events to celebrate the Year of Korea-Japan Friendship. In line with the friendship festival, the organizers are expected to stage a joint performance of Korean dancers and Japanese Butoh dancers.
by Lee Min-a
The Butoh event and a contemporary dance event will run from tomorrow to July 14 at the National Theater of Korea. For more information, visit www.kjdance.net or call (02) 3216-1185.