How the idea was born

During Paphos 2017 European Capital of Culture, a few artistic projects were supported outside the city of Paphos. With the initial support of The Home for Cooperation and EU Japan Fest, we started slowly drafting the idea of bringing a Butoh dancer/performer to Cyprus to collaborate with us during Paphos 2017. After months of hard work and help of good friends, we are proud to present the week-long workshops and performance. This blog is an attempt to document our journey, share it with our audience and give it a digital presence.

The Butoh Dance (from Wikipedia)

Butoh (舞踏 Butō) is a form of Japanese dance theatre that encompasses a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance, performance, or movement. Following World War II, butoh arose in 1959 through collaborations between its two key founders Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo. The art form is known to “resist fixity”[1] and be difficult to define; notably, founder Hijikata Tatsumi viewed the formalisation of butoh with “distress”.[2] Common features of the art form include playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, extreme or absurd environments, and it is traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion. However, with time butoh groups are increasingly being formed around the world, with their various aesthetic ideals and intentions.

Butoh first appeared in Japan post-World War II in 1959, under the collaboration of Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo, “in the protective shadow of the 1950s and 1960s avant-garde”.[3] A key impetus of the art form was a reaction against the Japanese dance scene then, which Hijikata felt was overly based on imitating the West and following traditional styles like Noh. Thus, he sought to “turn away from the Western styles of dance, ballet and modern”,[2] and to create a new aesthetic that embraced the “squat, earthbound physique… and the natural movements of the common folk”.[2] This desire found form in the early movement of ankoku butō (暗黒舞踏). The term means “dance of darkness”, and the form was built on a vocabulary of “crude physical gestures and uncouth habits… a direct assault on the refinement (miyabi) and understatement (shibui) so valued in Japanese aesthetics.”


“TOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO” was established in 1987 preside by TOMOE SHIZUNE. The company’s 1994 performance in New York was met with rave reviews, such as the following: “Beyond Butoh, one that both acknowledges its past and suggests that, under TOMOE’s direction, it will continue to go its own creative way” (The New York Times), or “I’ve come to believe that Butoh’s wallop comes from the fact that it is both foreign, or ‘other,’ and universal” (The Village Voice).

TOMOE SHIZUNE in charge of stage direction, choreography, music, and art for all of the company’s performances. Master TOMOE is the only Butoh dancer among those who learned under the originator of Butoh, Hijikata Tatsumi who faithfully inherited, then verified and further developed the art form, and established the “TOMOE Butoh method,” the first comprehensive contemporary stage-art method in Japan.

The Performance, Point Centre For Contemporary Art, December 4

Rooftop Theatre Group, in collaboration with “TOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO” Butoh Company, will host an Evening of Butoh at Point Centre for Contemporary Art on Monday 4th December at 8pm.

The performance will be directed by Sanae Kagaya, a Butoh Dancer and a member and disciplinary of the TOMOE SHIZUNE BUTOH method, created by the “TOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO” Butoh Company. Butoh is an avant-garde dance movement that emerged from Japan in the 1960’s that expanded to become an internationally recognised art form.

The performance will be the final works devised from a week-long series of workshops directed by Sanae Kagaya, and will include a short performance by the Butoh expert herself. The workshops have been devised around a concept of stillness; which has been debated in the performance world as a condition that is either wholly natural or completely fake. The same as in nature. Butoh practice and the UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus share this trait and the inherent tension around it/them.

The workshops and final performance could not have been possible without the support of EU Japan Fest; Home for Cooperation; Ekate; Point Gallery for Contemporary Art and Synergia Media.

The project would have never materialized without the kind assistance of Kayo Koitabashi who helped with organising and translated preparatory work. We also want to thank Miwa Kakuta that came all the way from London to assist in this project. Also, we would like to thank Giorgos Athanasiou and Anna Fotiadou for their generous offer to take on the filming of the showcase.

Photo: ©2012 Sebastian Marcovici/Sibiu International Theater Festival


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