(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Dancer-choreographer Takao Kawaguchi will perform “About Kazuo Ohno — Reliving the Butoh Diva’s Masterpieces,” at the Second Ward Foundation on Saturday, September 24, at 7pm, in a presentation by the Hudson Opera House, which is currently undergoing renovation. Kawaguchi joins Hudson-based choreographer Adam H. Weinert in conversation at The Inn at Hudson on Friday, September 23, at 7pm, followed by a reception with the artist.
In this stunning work of artistic homage, Takao Kawaguchi re-creates the iconic work of Kazuo Ohno, the founding father of butoh, a form of contemporary dance characterized by extreme images created in response to the horrors of the Second World War. Now, as part of a national tour organized by the Japan Society, audiences in the U.S. have a rare chance to see Kawaguchi’s powerful, evening-length performance celebrating the 110th anniversary of Ohno’s birth — he passed away in 2010 at the age of 103.
Although Kawaguchi never saw Ohno perform live, his meticulous examination of archival photographs and video footage gave rise to a new, multi-layered solo dance piece that attempts to recreate significant scenes from Ohno’s masterpieces, including “Admiring La Argentina” (1977), “My Mother” (1981), and “Dead Sea” (1985). As Kawaguchi performs on stage, images of Kazuo Ohno merge, surface, and recede with each scene, resulting in a powerful duet between Kawaguchi and an illusory image of Kazuo Ohno. The result is a completely new work of art, where the copy becomes the original.
“About Kazuo Ohno” was first shown at the “Dance ga Mitai!” Festival at D?Warehouse in Tokyo, Japan (August 2013). Following the premiere, the piece has performed around the world at prestigious festivals and venues including Kazuo Ohno Festival at BankART Studio NYK in Yokohama, Japan (October 2013), Dance Archive Project 2015 at BankART Studio NYK in Yokohama, Japan and Dance Archive Project 2015 at BankART Studio NYK in Yokohama, Japan (February 2015), Asian Arts Theater Opening Festival in Gwangju, South Korea; Pumpenhaus Theater in Munster, Germany; Queer Zagreb Festival in Zagreb, Croatia (September 2015), Tokyo Experimental Performance Archive in Tokyo, Japan (October 2015), Kyoto Arts Theatre in Kyoto, Japan (November 2015), Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, Belgium; Alhondiga Bilbao in Spain (May 2016) and at the Alkantara Festival in Lisbon, Portugal (June 2016).
After being initiated into the world of performing arts as a student in early 1980s Tokyo, dancer/performer Takao Kawaguchi joined mime-based physical theatre company le Théâtre de la Mandragore before immersing himself in the new waves of European theater and dance in Barcelona, Spain. Upon returning to Japan in 1990, Kawaguchi self-taught and formed a small company called ATA Dance before joining iconic Japanese multimedia performance company Dumb Type, his creative home until 2008.
During this period he also collaborated with a number of modern-punk musicians, artists and wizards of light and sound, including Atsuhiro Itoh (Diquenoves (Say You Don’t See), Fuyuki Yamakawa (D.D.D. — How Many More Times Will My Heart Beat Before it Stops?) and Daito Manabe (TABLEMIND). Since 2008, Kawaguchi has been working on his biographical solo, site-specific docudrama performance series called a perfect life.
Kawaguchi’s Touch of the Other, a performance based on the sociological research on male to male sex in public toilets in the 60s by US sociologist Laud Humphreys, was presented at ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives and REDCAT Theater in Los Angeles before its Tokyo premiere in January 2016. In addition, Kawaguchi was the director of Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival from 1996 to 1999, and translated Derek Jarman’s Chroma into Japanese in 2002 (Uplink).
ABOUT JAPAN SOCIETY
Japan Society is the leading U.S. organization committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan in a global context. Now in its second century, the Society serves audiences across the United States and abroad through innovative programs in arts and culture, public policy, business, language and education.
ABOUT THE HUDSON OPERA HOUSE
The Hudson Opera House is a cultural beacon in the Hudson Valley, offering a dynamic year-round schedule of music, theater, dance, literature, workshops for youth and adults, as well as family programs and large-scale community events such as Winter Walk. Located in an historic landmark that houses New York State’s oldest surviving theater, the Opera House is currently undergoing a complete transformation, starting with the restoration of its magnificent performance hall. Opening with an inaugural season in spring 2017, the new Hudson Opera House will reflect Hudson’s rich history in a modern facility that welcomes residents and visitors from throughout our local community, across the nation, and around the globe.