A hundred years old this month and still an active dancer, “Kazuo Ohno Photo Exhibition” captures on film one of the most famous Japanese performing artists in history. The exhibition, comprising 100 images of Ohno taken by 42 photographers, runs Oct. 14-23 at Konica Minolta Plaza in Shinjuku, Tokyo. It spans Ohno’s entire career, from his early days dancing with Tatsumi Hijikata (powerfully portrayed in black and white by Eikoh Hosoe), to a 2002 portrait by Nobuyoshi Araki.
In the 1950-’60s, Ohno and his early dance teacher, Hijikata (1928-86), created a contemporary dance style they called butoh. Since then, this eerie and dynamic style of dance has become well known in the West, where it is now more popular than in its country of origin.
Ohno used to be a high-school physical education teacher, but in 1929, after seeing “La Argentina,” a touring dance program by Spanish dancer Antonia Merce, he began to practice contemporary dance while teaching.
In 1977, Ohno performed “La Argentina Sho (Admiring La Argentina),” directed by Hijikata, which is widely considered to be among the best butoh performances. Soon after that in 1980, Ohno made his debut on the international stage at the 14th International Festival in Nancy, France, aged 74.
Though he started his dance career late, Ohno’s reputation has continued to grow. His centenary year has seen the publication this month of a stunning photo book, “Hidden Body — The World of Kazuo Ohno” (CREO). In addition to the exhibition, the gallery will host video screenings, talks and symposiums.
The free exhibition runs from Oct. 14-23 (10 a.m.-7 p.m.) at the Konica Minolta Plaza Gallery, near JR Shinjuku Station’s East Exit. For more information in English or Japanese, visit www.kazuoohno-exhibition.com