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Festival celebrates butoh founder Ohno

by Rob Schwartz

Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno are recognized as the founders of the influential dance genre known as butoh (originally called ankoku butoh, “the dance of darkness”), which has become an important worldwide dance form. While Hijikata passed away in 1986, Ohno, now 102, has enjoyed incredible longevity and a festival to honor him was created five years ago.

The 6th edition of the Kazuo Ohno Festival also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the performance of “Kinjiki,” considered the first butoh piece ever presented to an audience (on May 24, 1959). To commemorate this event the fest will stage “Kinjiki, a Work in Progress,” a three-part artistic exploration that will see Akiko Ohara, Yoshito Ohno and Yukio Waguri dance together on Oct. 11. Yoshito Ohno (Kazuo’s son) made up half of the duo (with Hijikata) that performed the original “Kinjiki”; Ohara collaborated with Hijikata in dance and Waguri was his most important student. They will explore aspects of the legendary piece. Other installments of the series will see a screening and discussion of Eikoh Hosoe’s film “Navel & A-Bomb” (Oct. 12) and three more of Hijikata’s students create a dance with Yoshito Ohno (Oct. 16).

The festival will offer numerous other performances, including some by a collective called AAPA made up of performers, musicians, lighting designers and architects presenting a work entitled “Covers” (Oct. 3) and a tribute to Pina Bausch (Oct. 17).

“The 6th Kazuo Ohno Festival” runs till Oct. 18 at the BankART Studio NYK in Yokohama. Times vary and tickets range from free to ¥3,000. For details, call (045) 663-2812 or visit www.kazuoohnodancestudio.com/