Dairakudakan Workshop

Hakuba mountains, photo by jbgThe Dairakudakan workshop took place in Hakuba in northern Honshu where the ’97 Olympic skiing took place. The scenery was stunning as you can see from the photo taken from the front of our hostel.

The first 4 days of the workshop were interesting and physically challenging. We worked from 8 til noon, 2 – 5, 7:30 – 9:30. The rest of the time we were cleaning the hostel, cooking or grabbing a desperately needed nap. Morning and afternoon sessions were with company members learning and experimenting with new movement material. Evening sessions were with Akaji Maru, part movement exploration and part lectures about his philosophy of butoh dance.

Basically his belief is that the body should speak for itself and not be imposed upon with movements. He works with 3 concepts: movement from daily actions, abstract forms, and space body. “Daily actions” consist of purposeful movements, restricted movements performed for a reason. Many of these movements, related to tools and human need have been eliminated. There is a giant trash can full of movement material from which to recover and recycle for dance. Sometimes our daily actions don’t allow us to see the treasures of repressed movement sources.

Primitive man’s fear became his God with whom he began to negotiate. Many “abstract movement forms in the world result from communication with, oras Maru said, doing business with God. Primitive people did more for their gods than for themselves.  Dance is the body sacrificing its energy to God, a thank you, an appeasement, a show of weakness against strength. All art forms began as a sacrifice. As science gives us understanding  and control of nature, we are losing our fear.soaking my aching feet in the foot onsen

Within our daily activities, breaks happen which distract us from our purpose. These breaks are the internal world of originality. Dance creation is an attempt to get into this world of repressed movements.  Examples of these breaks in daily life are: a) you are chopping vegetables and cut your finger; B)You are digging in your garden, a snake slithers by; c)You are reading a book and discover a misprint. According to Maru, these accidents are openings into the realm of potentiality. The artist must STOP in order to experience these moments fully, to sense this rupture between what is inside and what is outside. Energy flows in and out altering the space body. What was there has disappeared; time does not exist, only emptiness; silence is music; stillness is dance. This gateway into the deep is the “space body.”

The last 3 days were spent learning choreography for our erotic cabaret performance in which we wore gold g-strings and painted our naked bodies gold. We performed in pouring rain which ended up being a lot of fun even though the choreography was not particularly butoh. One section of the hour long piece involved fire torches which never lit because of the rain.