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Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008
By PAUL McINNES
Theater Tram, Sangenjaya, Tokyo
Jan. 30-Feb. 2
Androgynous and chameleonlike, famed butoh dancer and choreographer Akira Kasai returns to the Tokyo stage this week with a four-day festival at Theater Tram in Sangenjaya ( 5432-1515; setagaya-pt.jp). A student of Kazuo Ohno and friend of Tatsumi Hijikata, butoh's founding fathers, Kasai latest project was last year's well received "Butoh America," a Japan Society-supported alliance with dancers in New York.
Kasai will perform "Tomei Meikyu (Transparent Labyrinth)," a new collaboration with pianist Yuji Takahashi. Set to Bach's often complex and mesmerizing fugues, the butoh guru should set the stage alight with the unique protean dancing style that was influenced by his study of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner's "Eurythmy" performing-art movement. Though in his 60s, in this rare opportunity to witness one of Japan's leading dancers, Kasai promises to tear down and explore the framework of the art form.
In addition to his solo piece, Kasai has also choreographed various pieces for noted Japanese dancers Naoka Uemura and Mitsutake Kasai (Kasai's son), and Kanako Yokota (who recently won Tokyo Shimbun's national butoh contest), the local collective Persephassa Eurythmie Gruppe and Italian-born Alessio Silvestrin.