News: Butoh founder dies

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Kazuo Ohno came to dance late in life – making his first public performance at the age of 43. In his 50s he was one of the founders of the the Japanese dance form butoh (dance of darkness), an art form which developed in response to the horrors of the the Second World War.

“The best thing someone can say to me”,_ he said, _“is that while watching my performance they began to cry. It is not important to understand what I am doing; perhaps it is better if they don’t understand, but just respond to the dance.”
His last performance outside of Japan was in New York in 1999 – and he performed publicly for the last time in 2007 – shortly after his 100th birthday. Read more in The Times, 7 June 2010

Singer Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons) was a long time admirer of Ohno. He used a picture of him on his 2009 album The Crying Light, and earlier this year visited Ohno’s dance studio in Yokohama. “At Ohno’s bedside, I witnessed a surprising vitality and sensed an almost invisible movement reverberating through his elderly frame. As he lay there, his window open to reveal a cherry blossom tree and a view of Mount Fuji, I realised that Ohno had developed a creative process that was a byproduct of his spiritual practice.” Read more in the Guardian, 7 June 2010

London based choreographer Marie-Gabrielle Rotie went to see Kazuo and his son Yoshito in 1999.

“I visited the studio many times but the first visit was by far the most profound. Finding the studio which is still there in the outer suburbs of Yokohama district was in itself a pilgrimage and a magical mystery tour, with nothing to guide me except a badly drawn map and instinct.”
Read more

What’s On