Artist Interview アーティストインタビュー
Akaji Maro’s representative butoh work Kaiin no Uma performance in South Korea
He talks about butoh today
The butoh company Dairakudakan was formed in 1972 with Akaji Maro as its central figure and went on to become one of Japan’s representative companies in the genre. Among the original members are some of the most important names in the world of butoh who later went on to form their own companies. The list includes Ushio Amagatsu (now leader of Sankaijuku), Isamu Ohsuka (leader of Byakko-sha, now disbanded), Bishop Yamada (leader of Hoppo Butoh Ha, now disbanded), Ko Murobushi (leader of Sebi, now disbanded) and Tetsuro Tamura (leader of Dance Love Machine, now disbanded). So numerous were the companies born from this original group that the expression “one dancer, one company” was coined to describe the Dairakudakan group.
Over four decades have passed since Tatsumi Hijikata launched a new genre of Japanese expressionist dance (later to be named Ankoku Butoh, or Dance of Darkness) with the work Kinjiki in 1959. This unique Japanese dance form characterized by the whitewashed bodies, open-legged stance, shaved heads and fragmented motion came to be known in the international performing arts world by the Japanese name butoh. But, with the disbanding of many of the early companies and the drift of young dancers toward the new expressive possibilities of contemporary dance, the butoh world has undergone changes.
Still, through all these changes, Akaji Maro’s Dairakudakan continues to perform at the forefront on the dance scene with close to 40 members over 30 years after the company’s founding. And, since 2001 the company has been presenting a series of productions in which individual younger members do everything from the choreography to the direction and decision-making concerning the stage art and music. Within this program we sense the emergence of a new age for the art of butoh.
We spoke to Akaji Maro about butoh on the eve of the first major performance in South Korea of one of his representative works, Kaiin no Uma, at the large-scale dance festival “Korea-Japan Friendship in Dance 2005” to be held in Seoul from June 25 to July 14.
(Interviewer: Jun-ichi Konuma)