Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tsunami on the Square, Prescott, Arizona

Heard through the grapevine that Koichi and Hiroko Tamano were going to be performing at the Tsunami on the Square festival in Prescott, just up the road from me. The Tamanos were among the pioneers of Butoh, studying and collaborating with Tatsumi Hijikata in the 1960’s. During the seventies, they moved to the Bay Area where they have trained a new generation of American Butoh dancers. The Tamanos are re-locating back to Japan so this was one of their last performances in the US.

The festival was held on the historic courthouse square in Prescott across the street from Whisky Row. A very prominent prop used in the performance was a large transparent fabric bubble in which Koichi entered the stage. The Tamanos were joined by Harupin-Ha, their dance troupe. A fellow participant at the UCLA symposium, Bob Webb, performed with them.

There was a particularly poignant moment during the performance that stood out to me. A young girl, perhaps eight or nine years wearing fairy wings sat to my left at the edge of the stage. As Koichi slowly moved up the stage, he noticed the girl. His face softened into a slight smile, he turned towards the girl and waved to her. The essence of Butoh, as I see it, is taking a journey into the deepest recesses of your soul and letting whatever you find dance. Watching the spontaneous joy that a child brought to Koichi’s dance made me smile too.

I got home rather late that evening and did a quick sketch from memory. The next day I did a more careful drawing and drypoint print using a photo as a reference.