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Artists who have previously been part of the Rebellious Bodies Festival.

Mitsuyo Uesugi

Award-winning* Mitsuyo Uesugi made a name for herself in Japan as one of the first female solo butoh dancers, after leaving a career in ballet to become a student of butoh founder Kazuo Ohno at the age of 20. In 1973 she appeared in Kazuo Ohno's experimental film Mr O’s Book of the Dead, and created her first butoh solo, Guren-yakyoku in 1975. She has since performed numerous times all over the world, and collaborated with dancers, musicians and theatre makers notably from France, after spending a number of years there. She has also toured the US, and performed at the V&A and The Place in London. Most recently she has expressed a renewed interest in pursuing the experimental, and was invited to perform at the Aparte Festival in Norway in 2022 as part of a collaborative physical theatre piece. Now 73, Mitsuyo Uesugi is one of a rapidly diminishing generation of butoh dancers still active today.

*Dance Critics Society of Japan Award: Baby Melancholia—Dream of Six Nights (2009)

Photo: Makoto Onozuka

Melancholia - A Portrait of M

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Takao Kawaguchi

Takao Kawaguchi is a well established Japanese contemporary dancer, who developed his career in experimental theatre forming ATA DANCE company with Atsuko Yoshifuku in 1990, and joining the prolific experimental performance group DUMB TYPE in 1996. In the year 2000 he embarked on a solo career, while also continuing to collaborate with a number of international artists such as Dick Wong, Koichi Imaizumi and Jonathan M. Hall. In addition to his work as a performer, he has also directed the Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (1996–99), translated Derek Jarman’s Chroma, appeared in Edmund Yeo’s short film KINGYO (which was invited to the 2009 Venice Film Festival) and in Chikako Yamashiro’s The Beginning of Creation, Abduction / A child (2015). He was also the Artistic Director for NPO Dance Archive Network’s TOKYO REAL UNDERGROUND festival in 2021.

Photo: Dudu Assuno

About Kazuo Ohno


Vangeline is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer specialising in Japanese butoh. She is the artistic director of the Vangeline Theater/New York Butoh Institute (New York), a dance company firmly rooted in the tradition of Japanese butoh while carrying it into the twenty-first century.

With her all-female dance company, Vangeline’s socially conscious performances tie together butoh and activism. Vangeline is the founder of the New York Butoh Institute Festival, which elevates the visibility of women in butoh, and the festival Queer Butoh. She pioneered the award-winning, 15-year running program The Dream a Dream Project, which brings butoh dance to incarcerated men and women at correctional facilities across New York State. Her choreographed work has been performed in Chile, Hong Kong, Germany, Denmark, France, the UK, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

In recent years, she has been commissioned by triple Grammy Award-winning artists Esperanza Spalding, Skrillex, and David J. (Bauhaus). She is the author of the critically-acclaimed book: Butoh: Cradling Empty Space, which explores the intersection of butoh and neuroscience. She pioneered the first neuroscientific study of Butoh The Slowest Wave; Her work is the subject of CNN’s Great Big Story Learning to Dance with your Demons. She is also featured on BBC’s podcast Deeply Human with host Dessa (episode 2 of 12: Why We Dance).

Hijikata Mon Amour


Chiharu MK

Based in Sapporo, capital city of Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, electroacoustic sound artist Chiharu MK studied audio spatialization at INA-GRM, Paris from 2001. She went on to play the acousmonium (a loudspeaker orchestra situated at the Motus performance space) at the Futura Festival in 2002. Her soundworks also featured at the international Festival of Bourges, the CCMC at I’Institut Franco-Japonais in Tokyo, Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, and at SnowScape Moere4 in Sapporo. Chiharu MK’s albums include “Piano prizm”, “Waterproof’ and “Blue Flow” (featuring Sachiko Nagata on hamon metal percussion instrument).


In 2011, she participated in the John Cage 100th Pre-anniversary concert in Sapporo.  In 2018, she was a special guest at Hong Kong Arts Centre’s 40th anniversary Sound Forms 2018 – A festival of Multi Channel.  


In the UK Chiharu MK + Micelle’s short dance film “re:vive” featured in Numbers Matter 121, a Covid-era online event curated by Keiko Yoshida for London’s IKLECTIK [off-site] series in April 2021. The piece was subsequently selected and shown at Dance Camera Pandemania – Istanbul’s International Improvisation Dance Festival 2022. 

Butoh on Film - Cave Dance


David Toop

David Toop is a writer and a composer/musician, working in many fields of performance art, sound art and music since the late 1960s. He has recorded Yanomami shamanism in Amazonas, appeared on Top of the Pops with the Flying Lizards and worked with artists ranging from Derek Bailey, Hugh Davies, Paul Burwell, Bob Cobbing and Ivor Cutler to Akio Suzuki, Camille Torment, Ryuichi Sakamoto, butoh dancer such as Mitsutaka Ishii and Min Tanaka. 


Exhibitions he has curated included Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery, Playing John Cage at Arnolfini, Bristol, and Blow Up at Flat Time House and his opera "Star-shaped Biscuit” for Aldeburgh in Snape Maltings 2012.

About his work, David explains: “What I consider to be research is a questioning of research itself: in what sense can an identifiable practice of listening be formulated and how does that inform the act of reflecting on sound, whether through analytical writing, speaking, composing? This is also true of performance practice, particularly in improvised music: can the reflexivity of improvisation be understood within the framework of research? My research focus is on sound, listening, writing sound, improvised music (practice, theory and history), sonic arts, strategies for composing for improvisers and a theory of ‘the instrument’ (the device or intangible ‘sculpture’ through which sound-making, listening and related events become manifest). This encompasses specific fields such as collaborative performance and listening to ‘silent’ media such as painting and literature but research as a site of discovery emerges from what is generated from the dialogue between all of these approaches, their varying intensities and forms of articulation.”

Butoh on Film - A Conversation: 1970s Butoh in Tokyo and London

Atsuko Kamura

One of Tokyo's most emotive and inventive artists and part of the women’s liberation movement in Japan in the 1980s, Atsuko was one of the founding members of the first all-feminist Japanese punk band, Mizutama Shobodan [Polkadot Fire Brigade], which formed in 1979 in Tokyo. Mizutama Shobodan toured Japan extensively, setting up their own record label and releasing two albums. Their second album, “Manten ni Akai Hanabira” [Red Petals in the Sky] was produced by Fred Frith. 


She also teamed up with Tenko to form the female improvisation vocal duo Honeymoons in 1981, performing internationally with seminal New York improvisers such as Tom Cora and John Zorn. 

In 1988 she joined Kazuko Hohki’s UK based Japanese pop group Frank Chickens and toured Europe, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USSR and Japan.


Since 2002, she has collaborated with musicians of diverse genres such as Robert Storey from Orchestra Murphy. Her latest project, Kamura Obscura, has released several albums and the latest, "4 AM Diary” was reviewed by Stewart Lee: "4am diary is a nightclub cabaret in occupied territory, inscrutable subversion, discombobulation, kirsch-quaffing commissars.”- Idler, 2022.


Although her career has primarily been in music, dance has been a life long passion. She started to train in contemporary dance at the age of 18, and in 1974 she saw Akira Kasai’s butoh performance in Tokyo, which made a significant impact on her whole artistic career.  

She trained in butoh at Akira Kasai’s Tenshikan until his departure for Germany in 1979, and attended numerous workshops with butoh masters such as Kazuo Ohno, Min Tanaka, and body work pioneers Michizo Noguchi and Haruchika Noguchi. 

She has since qualified in dance therapy at Roehampton University in 2004, and has been working with those with learning difficulties, on the autism spectrum and those with mental health issues in the UK and Japan, as well as running improvisation workshops combining music, dance, and art. 

Butoh on Film - A Conversation: 1970s Butoh in Tokyo and London

Metamorphosis of Darkness

Butoh Inspired Music & Words

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Dirty Electronics

John Richards explores Dirty Electronics focusing on shared experiences, social interaction and critical making. He is concerned with the performance of large-group electronic music and DIY electronics, and he has come to consider these activities as a holistic action. It is a fluid, live practice associated with the ideas of workshop-installation and performance-installation. His work pushes the boundaries between music, performance art, electronics, and graphic design and is transdisciplinary as well as having a socio-political dimension. He has also written numerous texts on DIY practices, performance of electronic music, and object-orientated and material approaches in relation to sound art.


As Dirty Electronics, Richards has created sound devices for various arts organisations and festivals. He released a series of hand-held synths on Mute Records in collaboration with the designer and writer Adrian Shaughnessy. Other significant artwork/sound circuits have included: the Sonar 20th Anniversary Synth for the electronic music festival Sonar; and Polytik, collaboration with graphic designer Jack Featherstone and Artists & Engineers. Richards considers these devices as 'physical editions', an embodiment and means of dissemination of musical ideas.

He has collaborated and performed with, amongst others, Merzbow, Pauline Oliveros, Howard Skempton (founder member of the Scratch Orchestra), Gabriel Prokofiev, Anna Meredith, Nicholas Bullen, Kanta Horio, Tetsuya Umeda and Yan Jun. Other notable collaborations include working with Rolf Gehlhaar (original Stockhausen group), Chris Carter from Throbbing Gristle, Keith Rowe, Anat Ben-David, Makoto Nomura, Stu Smith (ASMO), Dushume (Amit D Patel), Max Wainwright, Tim Shaw and Afrorack (Brian Bamanya). He has also worked closely with illustrator Natalie Kay-Thatcher and film director Johana Ožvold (The Sound is Innocent).

Butoh on Film - Boiler Room Dance

Ben Jeans Houghton

Gnostic Animist, Artist and Astrologer Ben Jeans Houghton’s multidisciplinary practice spans votive-sculpture, architectural-installation, oneiric film-essay, liquid-crystal painting, self-reflexive writing, ritual costume, improvised performance, mantric-glossolalia and esoteric lectures. The work explores and expresses magic; the art of transformation and its methodologies, technologies, agencies, and implications, through art-praxis, as-gnosis, informed by astrological, philosophical, and metaphysical perspectives.


Ben has delivered exhibitions, screenings, presentations, performances and publications internationally in Germany, Greece, Africa, Japan, South Korea, and America and nationally across the UK with CCA, Gymnasium Gallery, Bloc Projects, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Generator Projects, Whitstable Biennale, BFI and Channel Four, Trans-States and Astromagia.

Butoh Experiments - Metempsychosis

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Howlround was founded by sound designer, radio producer and audio archivist Robin The Fog in 2012 to create recordings, performances and installations entirely from manipulating magnetic tape on a quartet of vintage tape machines, with all additional effects and artificial reverb strictly forbidden - a process that has been described by Electronic Sound magazine as ‘conjur[ing] magic’. Eleven years, ten albums and innumerable performances, installations and film soundtracks later, his initial attempts to become a ‘one man Radiophonic Workshop’ have morphed into using closed input tape-loops to create blistering noise and primitive techno, which is quite a long way from where he started. He is also one half of  The Howling, a project with writer and broadcaster Ken Hollings exploring the duo's shared love of tape, text and trash aesthetics. Their sopohmore LP 'Incredible Night Creatures of the Midway' is out now on Wormhole and has been described as 'the missing link between John Cage and Suicide', while an expanded reissue of Howlrounds' eighth studio LP 'Trespass And Welfare' was released earlier in the summer.

Butoh Experiments - Bodies of Light ensue from Darkness

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Merkaba Macabre

Merkaba Macabre is a multimedia project by Steven McInerney, combining film, digital projection and sound to create experimental films, live audiovisual performances and installations. McInerney's work draws upon dichotomous energies, meditating between the sacred and profane. His live shows explore psychospiritual tropes and altered perception, often blurring the lines between science and fiction. McInerney is the founder of Psyché Tropes, a film label exploring the synaesthetic intersections between sound and its visual counterpart. Other collaborative projects include: IOME, Post Coma and Flying Disks.

Photo: Tom Preficz

Butoh Experiments - Bodies of Light ensue from Darkness

Pascal Savy

Pascal Savy is a French musician and performer based in London. He started making music influenced by early techno and experimental electronic music. Over the last 15 years he has explored more textural territories, often devoid of rhythms or melodies, and centered around atmosphere and immersion, to evoque imaginary spaces and expansive soundscapes. Nowadays, his music explores abstract ambient, noise and live electronics, and is informed by the tension between composition, improvisation and live performance. His work has been released on labels such as Audiobulb, Eilean Rec, Experimedia or AUDIO. VISUALS. ATMOSPHERE. and Cyclic Law.

Butoh Experiments - Butoh Without Bodies

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Matt Eaton

Musican, composer

Matt Eaton is a composer, artist and sound designer based in the UK.

He is a founding member of the musicians collective Pram, Domino Records artists and the creators of a series of album releases starting in the late 1990s and through to the present day.

Matt, in collaboration with Gareth Jones, was the co-composer of a series of soundtracks to early 20th century expressionist films, starting with Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari" in 2011 and closing with Teinosuke Kinugasa's "A Page of Madness" at Flatpack Festival in 2019.

He is a regular collaborator with theatre practitioners and film makers worldwide and has a lifelong interest in storytelling through sound.

Metamorphosis of Darkness

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Vicky Karkou

Vicky is the Director of the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University and an internationally known academic and researcher in the arts and arts psychotherapies.  She is a trained dance movement psychotherapist and a practising creative supervisor. As a researcher, Vicky has received funding from ESRC, AHRC, the Arts Council, NIHR, the Wellcome Trust, and the European Union, amongst others. She is engaged in diverse methodologies ranging from artistic inquiry to systematic reviews and meta-analyses. For example, with a team of colleagues from Leeds University, she has completed two Cochrane Reviews on the effectiveness of Dance Movement Therapy for Depression and for Dementia; methodologically these publications include systematic reviews and a meta-analysis.  With colleagues from Edinburgh University she has edited her third (edited) book titled: The Oxford Handbook on Dance for Wellbeing; this publication, amongst other things, favours and celebrates arts-based research and videos as publications.  Her more recent co-edited book is on Arts Therapies Research and Practice with Persons on the Autism Spectrum.

She travels extensively for research and teaching purposes offering key notes, experiential workshops and consultancy work around the world.  In 2014 she was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine from Riga Stradins University, Latvia for her services in supporting the development of arts psychotherapies in this country.

She is widely published in peer reviewed journals and edited books and is co-editing the international journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy published by Taylor and Francis.

Metamorphosis of Darkness

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Genevieve Say

Genevieve Say is an independent dance artist, performer, choreographer and movement director based in the UK. She gained a place on One Dance UK’s Future Leaders mentor scheme, and received mentorship from Jude Kelly MBE. In 2019 she was a recipient of the DanceXchange Choreography Award in Birmingham and in 2021 was shortlisted for the AWA women in dance award. She is the current chair of Equity Union dance committee and has sat on the committee and been an advocate for the union since 2019. Genevieve graduated in 2006 from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts with First class BA(Hons) in Dance and Performance. Genevieve makes ensemble pieces and solo work under her own name, often in collaboration with theatre, visual and sound artists. She also works with a number of dance and theatre companies taking her across the globe as a performer, teacher choreographer and movement director.

Metamorphosis of Darkness

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Sandra Hall

Co-Director and Lead Artist of Friction Arts. Born in Kenya, Sandra’s early career was grounded in performing in theatre, TV and film before coming to Birmingham in 1990 for a two-year stint with Geese Theatre, performing in 120 prisons across the UK and Ireland. Sandra has trained with the likes of Philippe Gaulier, Augusto Boal, Prapto Suryodarmo, Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Jonathan Kay and is an accomplished actor, director and deviser of performance in all its many forms. Alongside Lee she initiates, devises and develops Friction’s projects, as well as fundraising, managing projects and people and ensuring everything’s on track. Sandra grew up ligging her way around the original punk and new wave scene in late 70s/early 80s London and has a treasure trove of stories from that time.

Metamorphosis of Darkness

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Natalie Mason

Multi-instrumentalist, improviser, and composer Natalie Mason has performed and recorded internationally at the BBC Proms, FIFA World Cup, Symphony Hall and Real World Studios. She has been commissioned as a composer by Surge Orchestra, Flatpack Film Festival and Dorcha, with her music played on BBC Radio 3.

She is a member of the avant-pop experimental duo Kamura Obscura, co-curates alternative music night Club Integral Midlands Branch and recently completed a national tour with The Nightingales. 

Originally from Birmingham, Natalie returned to live and work there in 2012 following the completion of her Master’s degree in Music and Development at SOAS in London, before which she spent several years living and working in South Africa. Natalie's work as an improvising creative music facilitator with music therapists in Cape Town was particularly significant to her development as a practitioner of intercultural music-making. 

Since 2015, Natalie has been directing the Multicultural Music Making project (MMM) she created in partnership with Friction Arts. MMM is a child-centred community music education programme guided and informed by the interests, geographical connections and cultural heritages of the young musicians taking part.

Butoh Inspired Music & Words

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