Sunday, February 11, 2007

Kazuo Ohno Butoh dancer

The yoga weekend was wonderful, as I knew it would be. Julie creates a warm and peaceful environment for us to experience our yoga poses in. She reads inspiring quotations at intervals. I saw old friends and as I usually practice yoga alone in my house, I enjoyed practicing with others. Each person was working to create peace and harmony within themselves and thus out in the world too.

I stayed overnight with some dear friends. While at their wonderful home on a quiet road in the woods, sort of like being at a luxury retreat, they showed me a newly purchased book about Kazuo Ohno. He is a Butoh dancer. I had never heard of either the man or the dance. He is now 101 years old, Japanese.

The book is made up of photos of Kazuo Ohno dancing. He is incredible. Moving. Very old. Thin. His flesh falls against his body like rolls of silken cloth. His face expresses the pain and beauty of being human. He dances sometimes in women's clothing, sometimes in what looks to be underwear, other costumes. One photo shows him lying in a shallow pool of water lilies. Extraordinary. Very moving. How often do we get to see the beauty of an elder's body making graceful movements?

I'd like to try Butoh dancing myself. If I were in Japan I could just drop in to the studio. No need to call first. Butoh dancers often wear white makeup as in some other traditional Japanese dances. But this form of dancing is modern, begun around 1959 and even today is considered an "underground" form of dance in Japan. It is related to meditation and the martial arts. It is sometimes called the "Dance of Utter Darkness." It was created post WWII in reaction to the atomic devastation by Tatsumi Hijikata.

I have always been moved imaginatively and with sorrow in my heart about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was still a babe in my mother's womb when the bomb went off. I was born October 1945, in the bombs wake. This dancing--I can't explain how moved I am by both the dancer and the dance. There are now other Butoh dancers, in this country too.

Interesting how, when I go out into the world, break out of my mundane life pattern, I become inspired, renewed and learn new things. I am blessed. A wonderful weekend.

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