Meeting Kazuo Ohno & Dinner With Yoshito

On Saturday night after class I was fortunate to visit Kazuo Ohno in his bed. He woke up when we came into his room, then dozed, then woke again while we were there. I held his beautiful hands and in my exitement blurted out many silly things . . . “honor to meet you. . . . waited for this moment for 12 years . . . thrilling to touch your lovely, expressive hands . . . so much admiration . . .  at this moment fulfilling the ultimate butoh dance . . . thankful to be a witness . . . fulfilling moment in my life . . . and so on.” I am sure he hears this all the time from so many admirers.  Meeting Kazuo Ohno, on his death bed was truly one of the top ten!

On Sunday, my friend Nathan and I went to the Asakusa area where we bought Japanese incense and bathed in a very old, funky onsen (public bath). The water was hot, clean and most refreshing though.

After our baths we went to Ginza to see a performance by a new Japanese dancer friend I met at Yoshito’s class. She was so lovely, possessing a quiet, passionate elegance within the tiny gallery /performance space crowded with 30 or so spectators. Afterwards everyone gathered for wine, beer and snacks –artists, dancers, critics, film producers — a very artsy crowd, many of whom spoke English so I was able to communicate. It seems when artists, no matter what nationality, get together there is great conversation which opens up the potential for creative collaboration.

Yoshito invited Nathan and I to have dinner with him at a famous, old restaurant in Ginza called “Torigin”, named for the chicken dishes they specialize in. The food was delicious and Yoshito and I drank much red wine then staggered to the subway clinging to eachother in order to stand.

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About Julie

The Asheville Butoh Festival is directed by the Asheville area butoh dancer, choreographer, and teacher Julie Becton Gillum. As founder of three modern dance companies, and ultimately Legacy Butoh, Gillum has been creating, performing and teaching dance in the US, France, Cuba and Mexico for over 40 years. Gillum’s primary form of artistic expression has become butoh, which she has been practicing, performing, and teaching since 1998. She has created and presented major pieces in the genre at a variety of venues in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Mexico. Gillum was awarded the prestigious 2009 Choreography Fellowship by the North Carolina Arts Council, which enabled her to travel to Japan to study with renowned butoh masters Yoshito Ohno, Natsu Nakajima, Akaji Maru, and Seisaku.