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October 25 (Thursday)
Kazua Ohno: Three Decades of Butoh Dance on Film
(365 Fifth Avenue)
CUNY Butoh Film Program

This program is the first of two parts of the New York Butoh Festival Film Series, the second of which is shown at Anthology Film Archives on November 4. The CUNY Film Program is dedicated to butoh dance’s co-founder, Kazuo Ohno (1906- ), and is comprised of videos he gave over a quarter century to John Solt, poet and scholar of Japanese avant-garde culture. The day-long festival features extremely rare footage that spans three decades of live and outdoor performances by Kazuo Ohno and his son, Yoshito Ohno – from the Mr. O trilogy of the early 1970s, to The Palace Soars through the Sky of 1993. Brief remarks and an audience Q&A with John Solt will follow each video. Moderated by New York Butoh Festival co-founder, Jeff Janisheski.

Film Program is presented by CAVE New York Butoh Festival in conjunction with CUNY Graduate Center, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center

KAZUO OHNO (1906- ) is the co-founder, along with Tatsumi Hijikata (1928-86), of the contemporary Japanese style of dance known as butoh. In contrast to Hijikata, who created large-scale work that explored the darkness of life, Ohno’s solos and duets explored the light: “Take care of life, yours and others” is how he summed up his dance philosophy. A prolific writer and a deeply passionate teacher, he has performed and taught in Europe, Asia and the U.S. to great acclaim. In 1999 he received the Michelagelo Antonioni Award for the Arts; and in 2004 Wesleyan University Press published in English a collection of his writings, “Kazuo Ohno's World: From Without & Within.”

1:00pm-6:00pm: Afternoon Films
Selection from Mandala of Mr. O. (1971; 15 minutes)
Mr. O’s Book of the Dead (1973; 90 minutes)

These are selections from the second and third films in the legendary and rarely seen trilogy of Mr. O films featuring Kazuo Ohno, directed by Chiaki Nagano. Filmed during a period in which Ohno had retired from public performance, these experimental films focus on Ohno’s improvisational dance and are a fascinating portrait of the Japanese avant-garde art movements that were flowering in the 1970s.

Kazuo Ohno (1982; 55 minutes)

Excerpts from a documentary made for Swiss television, with French narration. This video contains the only extant footage of the flamenco dancer La Argentina (who inspired Ohno to create his signature piece, Admiring La Argentina). It has clips of her dancing in 1930, interspersed with Ohno’s interpretations of her. At one point he explains, “I am alive, she is dead, but we are one and the same, and I am dancing with her.”

Ishikari ho hanamagari: Michiyuki (The Hook-nosed Salmon of Ishikari) (1991; 65 minutes)

Filmed by Kazu Tanabe, this video documents Kazuo and Yoshito Ohno’s 1991 outdoor performance in Hokkaido, Japan. The subtitle of this duet is “michiyuki” which, in Kabuki theatre, refers to the danced, journey scene: the emotional climax when a couple goes one-way towards a double suicide. In this wind-swept performance, Kazuo and Yoshito embody this journey – perhaps as lovers, perhaps as salmon in a river – to express the ephemeral nature of this impending sacrifice. At the end, Ohno returns (wooden) salmon to the river – in a Buddhist gesture of compassion.

Butoh: Ohno Kazuo no sekai (The World of Kazuo Ohno: From Divinarianes by Jean Genet) (1996; 30 minutes)

Video of site-specific performances by Ohno. Beautifully shot, with a hypnotic score featuring Ravel’s “Bolero” score.

Selection from Irie Hirozen saiten (1995; 5 minutes)

Ohno is seen working with Toshio Mizohata, his lighting and music designer, manager and archivist. In a small gallery Ohno dances with various objects, including the items on exhibit. He dances to Elvis Presley’s gospel music, showing his versatility and humor.

7:00-9:00pm: Evening Films
Kaidan wo oriru tsuru (The Crane Descending the Stairs) (1990; 37 minutes)

Filmed by Kazu Tanabe, this video documents Ohno improvising in a rural mental hospital in Japan.

Selection of Roten ni okeru Ohno Kazuo butoh koen (1992; 20 minutes)

A video by Hideya Muraoka documenting Ohno dancing after a 40-minute panel at the “Wolf Exhibit” of woodblock-print artist Ryu Oshima. During the panel Oshima reveals that he feels possessed by wolves and has done 1,300 prints of them over the past 15 years. Ohno dances in front of the prints and becomes the wolf they wish they were.

Selection from Goten sora wo tobu (The Palace Soars through the Sky) (1993; 35 minutes)

Clips from a massive, site-specific performance in a warehouse in Yokohama for an audience of over 1,000 people. Performers include Ohno, Akiko Motofuji (wife of Tatsumi Hijikata) and dozens of international dancers. About half of Ohno’s 30-minute performance is a great finale with the dancers and audience celebrating him as he moves around the huge stage.

November 4 (Sunday)
Anthology Film Archives
32 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-5181
Anthology Butoh Film Program

This program will feature full-length documentaries on butoh founders Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno as well as 2 short surrealistic films, which exemplify various aesthetic and conceptual connections with some early and foundational butoh explorations.

No advance ticket sales.
Tickets are available 30 minutes before the day's showings only.

for ticket information call (212) 505-5181
Price: $8/$5 for Members, $6 for Students and seniors with ID

2:00 pm
Summer Storm (2003) by Misao Arai

Summer Storm is a documentary film including performances, background on Hijikata, and an exploration of the northern country that was an essential element in Hijikata's work. Included is a significant 1973 Kyoto performance, which is also the last of Hijikata's dances to be filmed.

Beauty and Strength (2001) Assembled by NHK Software

Beauty and Strength includes performances, interviews, documentation of workshops and rehearsals, drawings, writings, and biographical information. The film is comprehensive look into the world of Ohno's dance. Performances include 1977 and 1994 versions of La Argentina.

5:30 pm
Un Chien Andalou (1929) by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali

Un Chien Andalou is a ground-breaking and continually influential surrealist collaboration. The dream-logic of the film (the departure from the external senses defiantly marked by the notorious slicing of the eyeball!) is consistent with the internal logic of butoh. Early butoh dances often made explicit references to surrealist works.

The Seashell and The Clergyman (1928) by Germain Dulac

The Seashell and The Clergyman is a predecessor of Un Chien Andalou, directed by the radical feminist (in her day) Dulac. A provocative early surrealist work based on a script by Antonin Artaud. Hijikata was a great fan of Artaud's revolutionary theater (one of his prized possessions is said to have been a copy of Artaud's radio program To Have Done With The Judgement Of God) and his dances often bore strong resemblances to Artaud's Theater of Cruelty.