Artist Interview アーティストインタビュー
A look into the choreographic art of Akira Kasai, fifty years after entering the world of Butoh
Akira Kasai (Butoh artist)
Akira Kasai became active as a Butoh dancer after meeting Kazuo Ono in 1963 and Tatsumi Hijikata in 1964. By 1971, at the age of 28, he started his own studio Tenshikan (*1). From this studio would emerge Butoh artists Setsuko Yamada, Kota Yamazaki and others. In 1972, Kasai traveled to Germany and studied at the Eurythmy school in Stuttgart. After returning to Japan in 1985 he lectured on the anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner and held performances and workshops on Eurythmy. In 1994, Kasai made his return to Japan’s dance world with a work titled Seraphita (*2), after which he continued to present not only his own solo pieces as well as choreographing pieces for such representative butoh artists of Japan’s contemporary dance scene as Kuniko Kisanuki, Kim Ito, Naoko Shirakawa and Ikuyo Kuroda, and also figures like the famed ballet dancer Farouk Ruzimatov. At the same time he has also performed actively overseas in places like North and South America, Europe and South Korea.
In 2012, Kasai worked with renowned butoh artist Akaji Maro (leader of Dairakudakan) for the first time to present Hayasasurahime , a work he choreographed for performance at Tokyo’s Setagaya Public Theatre (November 2012). Performing in this work along with Kasai and Maro were four dancers from their Tenshikan and Dairakudakan companies, and 20 Eurythmy members. The work superimposed stories from Japanese foundational mythology recorded in the Records of Ancient Matters on the music of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with choreography that had the dancers from Tenshikan and Dairakudakan performing as embodiments of the universal dualisms of good and evil and Heaven and Earth. In their role, Kasai and Maro first battle each other, then become unified and finally become one as the embodiment of the deity Hayasasurahime that swallows up all dishonor and degradation and turns it into the light and darkness of the world’s creation.
Kasai has proven himself to be a unique figure of amazing and inexhaustible artistic creativity, working with equal ease in butoh, modern dance, contemporary dance and Eurythmy, as a butoh artist and choreographer. In this interview we ask Kasai anew about the foundations of his work and thought.
Interviewer: Tatsuro Ishii, dance critic