The Centre for Contemporary and Digital Performance
at Antonin Artaud Performance Centre
Brunel University, London
ARTAUD FORUM I: The World from within and without (in memoriam Kazuo Ohno) - April 4-5, 2011
n e w / p u b l i c a t i o n //
in Performing Arts Journal vol. 33:3, 2011 (PAJ 99), pp. 1-10.
Karolina Bieszczad-Roley: "Butoh: Duet for Dancer and Photographer"
[abtract/from the introduction]
Butoh, the Japanese dance form, has been widely photographed since its inception in 1959, when the first performance emerged from the collaboration between Kazuo Ohno (1907 - 2010) and Tatsumi Hijikata (1928 - 1986). It has attracted photographers with its strong visual aesthetics and the physical appearance of dancersÕ well-trained bodies. The dancers welcomed the collaboration with photographers, which resulted in the creation of many Butoh photography albums. There is an interesting statement reappearing in many Butoh photographersÕ testimonies saying that the act of taking pictures places them closer to the dance. They often claim that they are themselves part of the Butoh dance.
The photographerÕs creative involvement has been recognized and appreciated by Kazuo Ohno for many years. He often collaborated with a French photographer Nourit Masson-Sekine. He would invite her to take photographs during the rehearsals in his studio, allowing the clicking sound of the camera to become his guide on whether the inner focus in his dance was sustained. However, this creative duet between a Butoh dancer and a photographer has not received much attention in view of the artistsÕ immediate collaboration, and the dance and photographs have been mostly discussed as separate artworks. I propose a closer look at the dancer-photographer relationship by describing my act of photographing several Butoh performers and sketching reflections on this process. This will help present the duet in a new light, where a photographer does not only offer a technical skill and a visual interpretation of a dance (according to her style, art history knowledge, and so on) but first and foremost takes part in creating a new event and is an active participant rather than just an observer.
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This event websiteis programmed by the Centre for Contemporary and Digital Performance and supported by the Brunel University Graduate School, Goethe-Institut London, and DAIWA Foundation Japan House.
(c) 2011 The Centre for Contemporary and Digital Performance, Johannes Birringer (acting director)