Seattle International Butoh Festival 2017, March 6 – April 14

Posted on March 07, 2017, 8:27 am
6 mins


The dance art of Butoh has inspired countless artists internationally since its creation in post war-Japan. Butoh movement and training is incorporated into all manner of performance art, but there are few companies devoted to it in its purest, most visceral form. In Seattle, DAIPANbutoh is by far the most established and active, not only fostering local Butoh performance but encouraging international exchange.

The Seattle International Butoh Festival 2017 marks a year of exchange between DAIPAN and Chile’s Compañía Ruta de la Memoria. The festival includes many performances and workshops from these two groups, plus visiting and local Japanese artists.

Most of these events take place at the end of the month. On March 7, the opening reception for the associated art exhibition will feature live performances by DAIPAN. The visual art comprises mostly photography, especially the work of Bruce Clayton Tom, who is the photographer most assiduously documenting Seattle’s Butoh community. Butoh performer and artist Kaoru Okumura will also be displaying paintings. It all happens March 7, from 4pm to 6:30pm at the Shoreline Community College Art Gallery (16101 Greenwood Ave N, Building 1000, Lobby, Shoreline 98133).

The Main Performances

Compañía Ruta de la Memoria & DAIPAN, April 7 and 8 at 8pm

Two nights featuring different performers. Friday: Joan Laage & Sheri Brown; Saturday: Helen Thorsen & Diana Garcia-Snyder

$15 general admission, $20 (senior and general student discount), free for SCC students

Ken Mai & Kaoru Okumura, April 9 at 3pm

A final afternoon performance, featuring two established masters of Butoh, Ken Mai and Kaoru Okumura.

$15 general admission, $20 (senior and general student discount), free for SCC students

The feature performances all take place at Shoreline Community College Theater (16101 Greenwood Ave N, Building 1600, Shoreline 98133)

Reserve tickets to performances and workshops online.

Read more about Seattle International Butoh Festival 2017 from the organizers:

Artist information:

Founded by Natalia Cuellar in 2007 in Santiago, Compañía Ruta de la Memoria was born from the promise of rescuing the memory of Chile’s recent tragic past, and is known for its challenging work dedicated to human rights. For DAIPAN’s festival, the company will perform “Cuerpo Quebrado,” a moving work dedicated to the disappearance of women in during the dictatorship of the latter 1990s.

Born in Nara, Ken Mai is a Japanese butoh artist based in Helsinki, Finland. The theme of his piece “Requiem of Flower 花の鎮魂歌,” embodied by imagery of the life and death of a flower, is the universal law of creation and destruction. Ken Mai’s dance is influenced by both the founding lineages of Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata as well as German Expressionism, Zen, martial arts, singing and the Yoga Sutras. He is often celebrated for his iconic butoh drag imagery and describes his approach to dance as a devotion for sending compassion and love to the world, from the darkness to the light. His workshop concentrates on yogic warm-ups and improvisations led through visual imagery to stimulate poetic movement.

A fan of butoh since 1977, Kaoru Okumura [奥村薫] studied Butoh in 1993 at Asbestos-Kan in Tokyo with Akiko Motofuji, Hijikata’s wife, and had her first performance there. She has enjoyed performing in Seattle butoh scenes from 2008, as a member of Danse Perdue, and Kogut Butoh. In recent years, Kaoru has organizing butoh solos and collaborative events frequently at the Taoist Studies Institute and other venues where she experiences how a body bridges the soul and the world. Kaoru’s offering for the festival is inspired by a hidden Christian story that took place in Nagasaki.

Sheri Brown Dance presents a new solo work, “Journey to Tiphareth,” birthing a new movement form in a ‘transcendformeta’ new freedome ritual.  Digesting personal stories in a heroine’s journey with beats and bizarro feats along with pain train, anguish and suffering dissolving into simplicity and freedom.

Diana Garcia-Snyder’s festival offering, “Air 1.0,” is a movement tribute to stillness that is always ready to act. To curiosity, chaos, destruction, transformation, and the simplicity of a single breath. Chris Gibson and Carl Germain will play live music, and Howard Snyder will provide the photography and set design.

Joan Laage (Kogut) is creating a new work for the festival entitled “Stone Silence.” Years of struggling with tinnitus inspires this new work, which explores the journey of accepting this condition and the many ways individuals experience sound and the sense of hearing. Performing with Joan is original Dappin’ Butoh member Consuelo Gonzalez along with Katrina Wolfe and Shoko Zama along with ASL signer Dana Flores. Michael Shannon and Eric Lanzillotta (moog) will create an original musical score.

Helen Thorsen is re-choreographing her work “The Brittle Sisters- the handmaid’s induction” which conjures up images from Aphrodite to Medusa and explores the feminine in its multitude of guises. Kym Adams, Lela Besom and Michelle Curtis will join Helen, Cara Ross-Berman and Mary Cutrera, and Jackie An will create the music.

Featured photo by Alisa Gill, courtesy of DAIPANbutoh.

T.s. Flock is a writer and arts critic based in Seattle and co-founder of Vanguard Seattle.