Dance | Theater |MK2 | Spacek

“Kagemi” by the Sankai Juku company
Sankai Juku
by Carol Pratl

Staying Zen in troubled times

Japanese Butoh dance developed as a protest art among performers, in the aftermath of Hiroshima. Ushio Amagatsu, a world-renowned master of this corporal art form, has been bringing his version of it to Paris since 1982. This month he performs two new pieces — “Création 2003” and “Kagemi” — which he’s coproduced with the Théâtre de la Ville.

Like many dancers of his generation, Amagatsu, now 53, began his career during the Butoh boom in the 1960s. Eventually straying from its purist form, and its radical “dance of darkness” message of gloom — featuring bodies painted in white to represent eerie ghosts of war doomed to roam the earth in eternal slow motion limbo — he founded Sankai Juku, which means “workshop of mountains and the sea.”

Each of the company’s productions is pure poetry in motion. Meditative music, brilliant lighting as well as fluid and harmonious movement patterns thrust the spectator into something resembling a universal ritual... putting us back in touch with life’s simple beauties and mysteries. Amagatsu notes, “I want to believe that dance begins in the process that happens before birth, and that it’s an ongoing part of evolution, that’s never ceased for millions of years.”

Without being narrative or pseudo-spiritually abstract, Amagatsu’s choreographies — such as “Kagemi” — help us see beyond ourselves to the bigger picture.

Sankai Juku (chor. by Ushio Amagatsu). Program 1: “Création 2003" Apr 22-26 at 8:30pm. Program 2: “Kagemi” Apr 30 to May 4 at 8:30pm .Théâtre de la Ville, 2 pl du Châtelet, 4e, M° Châtelet, RER A, B Châtelet-Les Halles, tel: 01 42 74 22 77