Australia’s ‘high priestess of Butoh’ invokes ancient feminine power with epic new show

—Buried TeaBowl – OKUNI opens Friday 6 May 2022, BLACKCAT Gallery, Fitzroy

*** TICKETS SELLING FAST *** only five shows to go

“… an intimate and stirring passage through time, ritual, the past and the present… a profoundly moving awakening.”

Myron My,

Melbourne performance legend and Australia’s high priestess of Japanese Butoh dance, Yumi Umiumare, returns with a new solo performance and gallery installation featuring her signature juxtaposing of tradition and counter-culture.
Opening Friday 6 May at Fitzroy’s BLACKCAT Gallery, Buried TeaBowl – OKUNI is an intimate and epic solo performance installation bringing together dance, text, song and tea ceremony with stunning film footage. The work is inspired by radical Japanese female dancer and shaman Okuni, who initiated Kabuki theatre in the early 1600s.
Undisputedly at the height of her creative powers, Umiumare pays homage to Okuni through this work, using the tea bowl as a metaphor for long-buried sacred female power. Through the 450-years-old ritual of Japanese tea ceremony, she excavates ancient stories and channels the multi-faceted character of the complex, powerful yet fragile Okuni, to reawaken her spirit.
In addition to the nine performances, Buried TeaBowl – OKUNI will involve an immersive gallery experience. The performance space will be open during the Gallery’s opening hours of 11am to 5pm Wednesday through Sunday, and include installations, a contemporary Japanese tearoom, digital works, and soundscapes. Umiumare will also create pop-up tea ceremony spaces.
Buried TeaBowl – OKUNI marks Umiumare’s long-awaited return to solo performance. Since moving to Australia in 1993, she has emerged as a leading force in the avant-garde dance world, spearheading the iconoclastic ButohOUT! festival as well as being in demand as a director and performance artist nationally and internationally. In 2018 the Green Room Awards Association awarded Umiumare the Geoffrey Milne Award for Contemporary and Experimental Performance, in recognition of her significant contribution to Melbourne performance.

Buried TeaBowl – Okuni
Who : Yumi Umiumare, solo performance, installation, and tea ceremony
Where : BLACKCAT Gallery, 420 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
When : Thursday 5 May through Sunday 15 May (Sundays 6:00pm, Wed—Sat nights 8:00pm) (see below for full details); show duration approx. 65 minutes
Cost : $35 / $25 / Superiori-TEA $50 including a drink on arrival.
Booking URL:

Coming up this week in May:
11 Wed 8pm
12 Thur 8pm
13 Fri 8pm
14 Sat 8pm
15 Sun 6pm

During the performance season, the installation is open daily from 11am-5pm. Tea ceremonies and other events will be held during gallery hours.

Creator/Performer: Yumi Umiumare
Cinematographer/ Editor: Takeshi Kondo 
Composer/ Sound Designer: Dan West 
Lighting designer: Emma Lockhart-Wilson 
Dramaturg/ Maude: Davey
Provocateur: Moira Finucane 
Producer: Kath Papas Productions
Photographer: Vikk Shayen 
Graphic design: Mariko Naito 
Calligraphy: Hisako Tsuchiya 
Publicity: Diana Wolfe, Wolfe Words

This season is supported by Besen Family Foundation and BLACKCAT Gallery. The creative development (2021) of the work was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, City of Darebin and Abbotsford Convent Foundation.


“The final image is of a tea bowl mended with traditional gold joinery: a neat symbol for the way that ritual can restore a broken soul. The many fragments of this show do not adhere with the same smoothness… but there’s much here that glisters all the same.”—Andrew Fuhrmann, The Age

“Umiumare’s homage to Okuni, the power of ritual and female strength is a captivating work. It is fitting that this performance takes place in a gallery as what we witness often feel like art coming to life. She may be attempting to awaken the spirit of Okuni in Buried TeaBowl – Okuni, but through her generous guidance, Umiumare helps free the spirit inside all of us and provide us with a profoundly moving awakening.”—Myron My,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s