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Friday, Jan. 6, 2006

Butoh troupe stages 'spiritual carnival'

Torifune Butoh Sha has been challenging audiences' perceptions of contemporary dance not only in Japan but in Europe and the United States since it was founded in 1991. Comprising around 30 enthusiasts including housewives, high school dropouts and government employees, the troupe was founded by butoh dancer and teacher Kayo Mikami in collaboration with writer, director and choreographer Yukio Mikami. The troupe's latest offering, "Hozuki" can be seen in Arts Fusion (Part 2) in Kanagawa on Jan. 14-15.

Kayo Mikami did not arrive at butoh with a dance background, having graduated in journalism. It was an interview she did with butoh master Tatsumi Hijikata, under whose tutelage she would go on to study, that gave Mikami her first exposure to butoh and the inspiration to devote herself to this avant-garde dance form. Hijikata developed ankoku butoh in the late 1950s with its emphasis on bodily movements and gestures inspired by Japanese folk practices. Torifune Butoh Sha's first production, "Kenka (Consecration of Flowers)" in 1992 took the troupe to New York and the long-running Festival d'Avignon in France.

This latest production is described as being a highly emotional work, one that is "neither a tragedy nor a comedy, but rather a spiritual carnival."

"Hozuki" runs Jan. 14 (4 p.m.) and Jan. 15 (3 p.m.) at Kanagawa Kenritsu Seishonen Center Hall, Momijigaoka 9-1, Nishi Ward, Yokohama. Tickets are 3,000 yen in advance, available from Ticket PIA.

For more information, visit Torifune Butoh Sha's Web site (in Japanese only) at www.scn-net.ne.jp/~torifune

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