by Chris MaGee
Many of you out there know that I have a fascination with butoh dance, the modern dance form founded by Japanese choreographers Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno in the late 1950's. As part of my research for a yet unpublished book on the subject of butoh dance in film I was lucky enough to meet Japanese-Canadian dancer Denise Fujiwara. Fujiwara is the Artistic Director of the annual CanAsian International Dance Festival and she and I got to talking bout butoh on film. The end result is a programme of rarely seen butoh films that will screen as part of this year's CanAsian Dance Festival on Saturday, February 26th at 4:00PM at the Studio Theatre at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre.
Titled "Butoh on Film: Darkness and Light" the programme will include such butoh film classics as the recently rediscovered and restored 1959 Donald Richie directed short "Gisei (Sacrifice)". This 10-minute film features Tatsumi Hijikata and members of his Asbestos-kan Troupe in a performance that still has the power to shock five decades after it was shot. Also those attending the screening will get to see classic butoh films like Takahiko Iimura's "cine-dance" of Hijikata and Ohno's "Rose Coloured Dance", Hijikata in one of his last live performances in "Story of Smallpox" and a late film of Kazuo Ohno directed by Swiss director Daniel Schmid. On top of films featuring these masters the programme will also include work by contemporary dancers and directors like Eiko + Koma, Masaki Iwana and Dahci Ma.
If you are in the Toronto area and are a fan of modern dance and Japanese film then this is an event you won't want to miss. Click here for more details on the programme and this year's CanAsian Dance Festival, and if you're on Facebook add this screening to your events by clicking here.