Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sankai Juku

Sankai Juku are a Japanese dance troupe working exclusively in the Butoh tradition. Developed in Japan after the second world war, Butoh, or "Ankoku Butō" (meaning "Dance of Darkness") as it was originally called, features dancers in white body make-up performing hyper-slow physical movements and gestures, along with the signature "silent scream." But over the years, Butoh has evolved, and movements and motions may vary.

Sankai Juku have been performing Butoh since 1975 when the troupe was founded by Amagatsu Ushio. Considered by many to be the preeminent Butoh troupe in the world today, Sankai Juku's shows incorporate the stillness and minimalism found in many aspects of Japanese arts into the form of Butoh. Along with Butoh's traditional propensity for grotesque and shocking imagery, Sankai Juku weave in what Ushio calls "a dialogue with the gravity,"...that is a type of meditative, almost tableau-like choreography. Their costumes are alien, spartan, and architectural...or barely there. And the otherworldly sets, lighting, and music support the essence of Sankai Juku's sensibility which is dedicated to oblique narratives of psychological and spiritual states told through physical signifiers. The result is that we feel we are witness to arcane rituals and secret ceremonies on a micro- or macro-level that ordinary humans should not see...

Here are two short clips from their 2000 show "KAGEMI - Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors" which I saw in 2006. It was a breathtaking, spellbinding evening, unlike any I had ever seen.

I also saw their stunning show "Hibiki" in 2010. For me, they have definitely become a "do not miss" event when they are in Northern California.

Sankai Juku are currently touring their latest show "Umusuna" this fall and winter in Europe and Israel. Click on their website below for a schedule and to find out more.

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