[-empyre-] : butoh

Tanz Atelier Wien office at tanzatelierwien.at
Thu Oct 6 04:06:07 EST 2011

Dear soft skinned space occupants,

Writing an adequate message to You all, while struggling to meet up with dead lines in regard to funding proposals for a possible International ChoreoLab Austria - in 2012, seems a bit strange... the mind projects into an unreal new space while neglecting the experienced passed space by joining in on a further processing of the ICLA 2011. Because of Johannes nice but underlined request to join in on the unfolding discourse, I will send in some thoughts now immediately...(it is my premier for me to join such an on line enterprise!)

The act of writing about movement is in itself a complex undertaking for me, and it can only remain as a wage parallel structure of what really happens when the kinaesthetic realm takes over, in which a unique body(land)scape functions and forms a vocabulary beyond words. It circumscribes (better or worse) what happens in and around the body while dancing. The insight of dance will remain untranslatable and one of the few secrets in our world of scriptures, signs and symbols...

The term (E)MOTION depicts and provokes(written in capital letters) how I perceive a phenomenon (in scripture) setting up an "E" in front of "MOTION", as if motion is the main aspect in my consideration... (Of course for a dancer "MOTION" stands in the foreground...) The intricate interface comes about, when the "E" is being framed and brought in adequate distance to the term "MOTION". A relationship of the framed "E" with the main term "MOTION" causes a constant (instable) frequency between the two entities as the scripture remains in pose on the empty white sheet of paper. "MOTION" and "EMOTION" start to dance on the surface of the panel, while the "E" remains framed. Should that suggest a special enhancement of that "E"? (E)? =E=?

My urge to move (things around) is constant and unbroken, as it is immediately inclined or "corrupted" by emotional sub currencies...

In my dance education at the Alvin Nikolais Dance Lab in N.Y. in the early 1980ies, it was not appreciated to acknowledge emotional stimuli while attempting to remain "abstract" in order not to disturb the functionality of the well prepared geometric dance vocabulary. It was a "No No" indulging in facial expressions and adding variations to the choreographic script! I remembered I never knew where to put all my emotional life while dancing the scores and I had serious problems storing away all these "wonderful" images which seemed to pop up out of now where. Later on I took "Method Acting" and realized that also the emotional household had to be structured and well prepared as well...

When Pina Bauschs contributions conquered also the American Dance Scene in the mid 80ies fostering all these "subversive" images, I felt reassured and learned to enhance and nourish my emotions as an acting dancer moving on the stage...

As we all know - as improvising dance makers - we are in a constant flux, as the "(e)motional" body weather challenges our being and moulds our path: we need to maintain a certain frequency in order to stay sane and healthy through and beyond art making.
For me the theme of the ICLA 2011: "(E)MOTION FREQUENCY deceleration" was a  pacemaker and reminder in regard and awe to all the life rhythms in this privileged setting of a unique lab, which I want to realize again hopefully!

So unfortunately I have to get back to work to night, in order to continue a more tedious task...
But talk to You soon on detailed subject matter?

Best Wishes, 
Sebastian Prantl

Sebastian Prantl
Tanz Atelier Wien
Neustiftgasse 38, 1070 Wien
T +43 / 1 / 522 60 44
F +43/ 1 / 523 39 94
E office at tanzatelierwien.at
H www.tanzatelierwien.at
ZVR 195416158

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [mailto:empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] Im Auftrag von Johannes Birringer
Gesendet: Dienstag, 04. Oktober 2011 21:29
An: soft_skinned_space
Betreff: Re: [-empyre-] : butoh

There is a scene in Peter Sempel's cult film from the early 90s, "Just Visiting this Planet," which took my breath away when I first saw it in a run-down cultural arts center in Dresden, 
not too long after the Wall had come down and traveling to the former communist East of Germany reopened some windows into the historical past, 
allowing also rediscovery of an early phase of modern dance and art practically forgotten and buried in the ruins of a long and
devastated 20th century. In this scene, a white horse is seen galloping down Broadway Avenue (New York City),
surely an apparition and yet, repeatedly, associated with the equally ghostly appearance of 
Ohno Kazuo dancing a fragile impression of his mother or the spirit of another 
influential woman in his life, La Argentina. It appeared that Ohno, 
one of the pioneers of butoh, who passed away in 
2010 aged 103 years, was improvising on 
some rooftop (or was it a side walk?), 
dressed in a loose white shift 
and floating above 
the street where 
the horse 
was seen,

a rose delicately held in his hand and the other hand drawing invisible lines into night sky. Now he bends, his head lowering down and the long arms are stretched out, he dances 
becoming a flower, he blossoms in the night. As the scene of this apparitional dance lingers in the imagination, the filmmaker cuts to a scene
where we see Blixa Bargeld, the lead singer of the experimental band Einstürzende Neubauten, sing a capella a harrowing 
Schubert song from "Die Winterreise," a lyrical composition that evokes a darkly desolate emotional landscape,
and time, as if frozen cold and yet galloping
along, with drops of melodic lines
irregular phrasings, crippled

After this musical entr'acte, the film returns to Ohno, showing a sequence of close ups in which attention is drawn to the dancer's feet, as he floats on a side walk, in the night.


Krems 2011, September 1..

Ohno Yoshito, the son 
of the late Ohno Kazuo, enters the studio space 
and announces he will dance a brief prayer, before opening his workshop 
demonstration and his recollections of the long history of butoh, from the beginnings with Hijikata.
When he begins the dance of prayer, and slowly moves in a circular motion, he now wears a rabbit costume, or rather, a small white 
embroidered cape and a headband with (children's) plush rabbit ears.  For a few moments, I think he is dancing becoming rabbit, but it cannot be, there is too much irony for me.
But the irony slows down, and over the the course of the next hour, two hours, I listen to the movement and the stories that Ohno tells, and the next day, in the studio, I will be given a rose.
I have to start again, from a place that can leave irony behind or pathos, and even as I resist regression, and child-like wondering at the world and at being alive moving with a beautiful synthetic rose,
I move there with the others, being inside even as I imagine not belonging to such space. In the workshop, we change rhythms, and we probably become aware of our emotions, through movement above all, not
sound, or memory. But movement is also memory, and motion is like a wave or a compression of many (different) waves.  Ohno after the rabbit shows us a print of Hokusai's Fugaku sanjurokkei: Kanagawaoki namiura
(The Great Wave off Kanagawa), and points to its contrasts: the drawing shows the vast power of nature (the waves appear larger than Mount Fuji) and relative smallness of humans  (the heads of a boat crew are are as small as speckles of the foam).  The sea is splashing into a chaotic light foam to be dispersed by the wind.

Johannes Birringer

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