Tea as an intangible element that can both free or enslave.
A fusion of Butoh, Tea Ceremony and Flash at Urbanguild Performance Space Kyoto 29/12/2014 30mins.
Artists: Eley Kishimoto
Andy Couzens - Sound
Michael Migliacci - Sound
Brian Close - Video
Mai Ueda - Performer
Manabu Miyazaki - Dance
Chian - Dance
Caitlin Coker - Dance
The Reason: This cross-discipline collaboration was inspired by the teacher Tenko Ima of Manabu, Chian and Caitlin - an introduction made through Eley Kishimoto's old studio postman Andy Couzens, who know lives in Kyoto. Two years ago Mark Eley was invited to Urbanguild and witnessed the energy and honesty of Tenko Ima and her Troupe, the beautiful images captured by this performance provoked Eley Kishimoto to become more involved with this Butoh Group in Kyoto. This particular form of dance expression is relatively new, having come about in 1959 from the collaboration of key founders Hijikata and Ohni Kazuo. The underlying principle behind the establishment of Butoh reflected the efforts of the two founders, who sought to eradicate Western principles, which they found within Japanese dance, namely predetermined choreography.
The movement or art-form of Butoh generally expresses grotesque, extreme and absurd movements, emphasised by its former name, Ankoku Butoh (Dance of Darkness) and the clash of the Art of the Tea Ceremony with Mai Ueda and Flash from EK provoked a synthesis of dichotomy. The complex beauty of the tea ceremony with it poetic symbolism and the choreographed animated flash harmonising and uniting both performance states of Butoh and Tea moved the tradition again to new boundaries.
The monochromatic performance through its entirety highlighted the Butoh norm but a visual contrast was created as one of the dancers Manabu painted himself all black positioning himself as the polar opposite as all three other dancers fully white. The use of the Black and White projection to enhance these qualities created new abstraction and pushed the Dark and Light spirits of the perception of the performance. Once Mai Ueda finished performing act 1 of Tea Movement she moved in to the audience offering marshmallows injected with Squid Ink to the audience, who consumed without question. This leant to the desire for the audience to be part of the performance and the monochromatic aspect of the spectacle was now within their bodies also. The effect of the Squid Ink inside the sweet marshmallow was to ritualise themselves in a traditional act of blackening their teeth which was seen as beautifying. This may seem controversial within todays obsessed hollywood teeth society but again was re-enforcing the performances flux of beauty and grotesque.
The general aesthetic of Eley Kishimoto Iconic Flash Print and the movement from being animated in this situation complimented the conceptual intention of the performance enhancing the Black and White nature of the staging and also flow and ambience of the movement. The placement of Flash over the years has jumped from Fashion, Cars, Technology etc - a plethora of independent performances in their own right but this foray into actual improvised performance of Dance staged in an underground contemporary Kyoto theatre again illustrates the diversity and the desire of where this humble pattern wants to play.