Setagaya Public Theatre
Dec. 13-16/Dec. 20-23

Performed largely without sets by ghoulishly made-up, near-naked dancers, butoh — which hit an early peak in the 1980s — is one of the few Japanese performing arts recognized the world over. Long the dance form’s leading company, Dairakudakan (Great Camel Ship; www.dairakudakan.com) celebrates its 35th anniversary this month with “Kami no Benki (God’s Potty)” and “Kami no Koku (God’s Empty Space)” at the Setagaya Public Theatre ([03] 5432-1526; www.setagaya-ac.or.jp/sept).

The 22 male and female dancers on stage will combine an adherence to the pure style of butoh-originator Tatsumi Hijikata (1928-86) with gorgeous costumes and beautiful — if bizarre — stages. The imaginative originality of the two pieces should take audiences back to the very origins of humanity itself.

“I first got the idea from research on the prehistoric art murals at the Lascaux caves in France by George Bataille (1897-1962). I’d like to express the gravity of everyday movement, such as drinking tea and eating,” says Akaji Maro, the group’s 64-year-old founder. “This world is just god’s potty, and we are just one of god’s outputs, like other creatures such as worms.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.