Tickets are now on sale for the eagerly-awaited 2019 ButohOUT! Festival—Forbidden Laughter. Thanks to pioneering Japanese-Australian performance artists Yumi Umiumare and Takashi Takiguchi, Melburnians have the chance to experience this unique and captivating dance form. Incorporating elements of cabaret, Bouffon, burlesque and visual installations, Forbidden Laughter is created by Yumi Umiumare along with award-winning performer Maude Davey, and the unstoppable force of WEAVE Movement Theatre, devious duo Willow J Conway and Zya Kane, and the Butoh OUT! Ensemble.
Australia’s love for dance shows no sign of waning and we’ve demonstrated our eagerness to embrace genres from around the world. We lap up the televised dance shows, from Dancing With The Stars to So, You Think You Can Dance. And on any night of the week, we can head to a class and kick up our heels in the style of our choice, whether it’s rock-and-roll, Latin, Irish, tap, line dancing, clogging and more. So when you think of imported dance styles, Butoh probably won’t spring to mind… and yet this Japanese-born performance medium offers us the chance to immerse ourselves in a fascinating, hitherto unexplored dance form that’s as revolutionary and subversive to dance as punk rock was to popular music.
Butoh, the so-called Dance of Darkness, emerged out of post-WWII Japan as a rebellious and anti-establishment reaction to the country’s social turmoil. Butoh’s crude physical gestures and ‘natural’ movements rejected traditional Japanese aesthetics of refinement and understatement, and eschewed what creators Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo saw as the imitation of Western dance styles. Butoh dancers were commonly covered in white full body paint, near-naked with shaved heads, moving excruciatingly slowly with clawed hands and rolled-up eyes, silently screaming.
The first Butoh performance at a Japanese dance festival in 1959—which incorporated a live chicken—shocked audiences and not only saw Hijikata banned from the festival, but established him as a cultural iconoclast.
ButohOUT! 2019—Forbidden Laughter
Now in its third year, ButohOUT! challenges the perception of Butoh as dark and grotesque by combining the dancing with elements of cabaret, Bouffon, burlesque, physical theatre and visual installations. Celebrating the unique and powerful performance medium of Butoh, Forbidden Laughter invites audiences into surreal narratives through a bizarre and mysterious domesticated installation within the rustic industrial school of Abbotsford Convent.
Forbidden Laughter is created and conceived by leading Butoh artist Yumi Umiumare in collaboration with Takashi, along with award-winning performance artist, Maude Davey and the unstoppable force of WEAVE Movement Theatre, devious duo Willow J Conway and Zya Kane and the Butoh OUT! Ensemble. Strange and absurd stories are woven between worlds that are mythically sacred and divinely carnal; the sensibilities of the East and West collide in a contemporary setting designed by the internationally acclaimed Thai sculptor, Pimpisa Tinpalit.
The two-month Festival program includes four public workshops held in March and April, two weeks of performances from Thursday 2 May—Sunday 12 May, and discussion groups. Facilitated by professional award-winning performance and visual artists and theatre-makers, the workshops are designed to cater for all age groups and stages of accomplishment including absolute beginners through to dance professionals, making Butoh accessible and engaging for all. The performance season will involve workshop participants (including dancers from the renowned WEAVE Movement Theatre) as well as the workshop leaders.
Creative team: Artistic director Yumi Umiumare, Producer Takashi Takiguchi, Dramaturg Maude Davey, Visual artist Pimpisa Tinpalit. ButohOUT! is being held in partnership with Abbotsford Convent and is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; Arts Access Victoria; and WEAVE Movement Theatre.
Media release written by Diana Wolfe and Gianna Huesch