Fringe preview: Butoh Beethoven
Japanese drama meets German music with New Yorker Vangeline
This article is from 2015.
Butoh, the mystical, physically demanding and magnetic ‘dark soul dance’ of post-Hiroshima Japan, is a major ingredient of all performances by Vangeline. It’s 15 years since the French-born, New York-based translator-turned-dancer discovered this ‘earth-shattering, life-changing’ form of artistic expression, which she compares to falling in love or ‘when you find where you belong’.
For her, butoh is in large part a public act of symbolic transformation. ‘It confronts areas we sometimes push under the rug and need to confront collectively as human beings,’ says Vangeline. ‘How do we transform our darkness? How do we keep resolute and full of hope when confronted by the violence around us and in the world?’
Vangeline conceived Butoh Beethoven as a tribute to the ‘all-consuming passion and genius’ of both Tatsumi Hijikata, one of butoh’s co-founders, and the titular German composer. To create this solo show, she drew upon the power of Beethoven’s music and the dramatically charged art of conducting (which she studied for four months). There are, she claims, forces at work here that go beyond a typical dance piece: ‘I’m exploring human history in all its beauty and violence. I’ve also learned to always invite spirits into my dance.’ You have been warned and, ideally, intrigued.
New Town Theatre, 220 0143, 8–17 Aug, 7pm, £12 (£9--£10). Previews 6 & 7 Aug, £7