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“Ginbasha” and “Neiro Superlight” by Mutsumi and Neiro (My impressions of the performance)
February 14, 2019
11 Febrero, 2019 2019年2月11日
Gustavo Thomas / グスタボ・トーマス
Translation-Mai Ishikawa / 石川麻衣
I went to see “Dance in February” by Mutsumi & Neiro, two dear colleagues I met at Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio almost six years ago during my second travel to study Butoh in Japan.
The work is simple in its structure, two choreographies (if we want to call them like that) or solo parts, “Ginbasha” and “Neiro Superlight” linked by only one powerful thing, the humanity of the characters/performers. I chose the word ‘humanity’ because most Butoh techniques today try precisely to erase the humanity of the body looking for a primitive nature of it or as many say “killing it”.
This was also not an improvised work but most of it was as fresh as it was improvised, alive as it was the first time they were doing those movements on the stage. But freshness, even as a possible quality of the work, was not the essential thing here. What it was striking for me, touching in many senses, was that they were two worlds doing things, yes, two worlds walking, cleaning, seating, jumping, dancing, watching; two profound micro cosmos living on stage, moving their bodies like simple people but in such complexity that only they as performers could do it. And if that was remarkable they didn’t look like they were dancing.
He, dressed with a shirt with no sleeves, white underwear and a clownesque tocado on the head; his skin painted in white and his face lightly remind us a circus performer. She, dressed with many layers of clothes, a wig and a delicate hat with almost no make up, ending with only one brilliant blue leotard.
It was obvious that this was not a normal choreography of Butoh or even a theatrical story, but a piece of two characters. Yes, the presence of the performers was as profound as if they were two well constructed characters. So, in one moment I thought, -this is absurd, there are doing almost nothing but showing us what they are, this is like Theatre of the Absurd. What I’m watching is like a piece written by Beckett with Beckettian characters, with all the absurdity that means watching two human beings alive completely elaborated by the passing of time and the weight of the world over them-.
Watching Neiro and Mutsumi performing their Butoh was watching the masks, the alive costumes of two human beings, who are not capable of changing anything but just living those layers of life. It was sweet, painful, deep, absurd again, and touching but never moved us to tears. Each one of them had soul on stage and that soul moved us around their deep works.
Here we don’t see any kind of parafernalia of the body, anything but subtle transformation, like -comparisons aside- Kazuo Ohno performing his mother or La Argentina. If there were skills showing in this “technique” that Mutsumi and Neiro used it those were from inner nature, from the soul; they were acrobats of the soul.
I’m happy to have seen this particular Butoh performance, because they are a good reason to understand that the other path in Butoh is alive, that path coming from Kazuo Ohno’s work and that it is full of humanity and artistic endeavour.
睦美・寧呂による「Dance in February」という舞踏公演を観に行った。二人は6年前、僕が舞踏を勉強するため2回目に日本を訪れた際に、大野一雄舞踏研究所で出会った愛おしい仲間である。この作品の構造は実にシンプルだ。２つのコレオグラフィー（そう呼ぶとすれば）、あるいは、２つのソロ作品から成る。一つは「銀馬車」、もう一つは「ねいろすーぱーらいと」。この２つの作品は、たった一つの強烈な「あるもの」で結びついている。それは、それぞれの人物／パフォーマーの持つ人間性である。僕が敢えて「人間性」という言葉を使うのは、最近の舞踏テクニックは、身体に宿る人間性というものを意図的に打ち消すものが多いからだ。身体に原始的要素を求め、「人間性を殺す」という表現を使う者が多い。