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Friday, March 31, 2006

Metamorphosis through butoh

Well-traveled troupe Sankai Juku revisit past pieces

Like most butoh troupes, Sankai Juku shave their heads and paint themselves a ghostly white. But unlike their contemporaries, this second-generation butoh unit, founded by Artistic Director Ushio Amagatsu in 1975, has spent almost as much time abroad (especially with their many coproductions at the Thea^tre de la Ville in Paris) as in their native land, doing much to influence worldwide perceptions of this contemporary Japanese performing art in the process.

News photo
Second-generation butoh troupe Sankai Juku

Sankai Juku wind up their extended run at Setagaya Public Theatre in Sangenjaya, Tokyo, March 30 to April 3 with a revisit of "Kinkan Shonen," a piece first conceived by Amagatsu in 1978. All tickets have sold out except for the April 1 performance. The troupe then performs in April/May around Japan.

Having completed performances of new pieces "Toki" and "Utsuri -- Virtual Garden" earlier this month at Setagaya Public Theatre, "Kinkan Shonen (The Cumquat Seed)" sees Sankai Juku return to a work which helped cement their reputation abroad in the 1980s. Subtitled "A Young Boy's Dream of the Origins of Life and Death," and with the twin themes of creation and evolution at its core, "Kinkan Shonen" deals with the metamorphosis of the human form.

Sankai Juku perform "Kinkan Shonen" on April 1 (7 p.m.) at Setagaya Public Theatre, 4-1-1 Taishido, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. Tickets are 3,500-4,500 yen, yen available at (03) 3498 9622/23.

Sankai Juku then perform "Kagemi (Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors)" at Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre, Nagano Prefecture (tel. [0266] 332-200) on April 22 and at Rune Kodaira, Kodaira, Tokyo (tel. [042] 345-5111) on April 29; and "Hibiki (Resonance From Far Away)," at Kimitsu Shimin Bunka Hall, Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture ([043] 955-3300) on May 13 and at Green Hall Sagamiohno, Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture ([042] 749-2200). "Hibiki" was first performed in 1998 and went on to receive the Laurence Olivier Award in the category of Best New Dance Production.

For more information, visit www.sankaijuku.com

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