Hijikata Mon Amour &
Melancholia - A Portrait of M
A double bill of two award winning female butoh performers: Mitsuyo Uesugi from Japan, and Vangeline from the USA. Two different backgrounds within the same genre, Mitsuyo Uesugi, student of butoh founder Kazuo Ohno for over 50 years, performs Melancholia - A Portrait of M, her most recent and relevant work reflecting the world we live in today, while Vangeline’s Hijikata Mon Amour pays homage to butoh founder Tatsumi Hijikata.
A Portrait of M
UK Premiere of a New Experimental Butoh Dance/Film Performance
Melancholia - A Portrait of M was originally commissioned for the DIGITAL//REALITY Festival, a festival reflecting on the digital world the performing arts had been thrown into as a result of Covid and its effect on society, as part of the Dance Dance Dance Triennale in Yokohama, Japan in 2021. Created in collaboration with film maker and butoh dancer Makiko Takamatsu, this work embodies the experimental approach to dance that butoh originally set out to achieve, by reflecting the world we live in today.
Mitsuyo, who has been performing butoh for over 50 years, considers this her most relevant work today and plans to adapt and develop both the film and dance elements of the work with Makiko Takamatsu for this year’s tour to keep it fresh and current, while always drawing on the history and her experience of a space to bring to the audience a unique, one-time-only performance.
Hijikata Mon Amour
Hijikata Mon amour is an homage to the founder of Butoh Tatsumi Hijikata, created in 2019 in celebration of Butoh’s 60th anniversary. Vangeline performs in an exact replica of Tatsumi Hijikata’s 1968 costume (Hijikata and the Japanese: Revolt of the Body) recreated by Todd Thomas. The piece premiered October 24 through October 26, 2019, at the New York Butoh Institute Festival at Theater for the New City and received critical acclaim from the New York Press.
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)
Vangeline is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer specializing 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).
with Mitsuyo Uesugi
A rare opportunity to learn from the award-winning, Japan-based butoh dancer Mitsuyo Uesugi.
For anyone who has ever attempted a butoh workshop in Europe, be prepared to encounter the brilliantly and unabashedly Tokyo-based Mitsuyo Uesugi. Now 73 years old, she developed her own style under the wings of founder Kazuo Ohno for 50 years only to come forward with her own uniquely earthy and current ideas about butoh.
£35 (Pay what you can available by email)
Butoh, Sensuality, and the Nervous System
Drawing from her own background as a burlesque/vaudeville and butoh dancer, Vangeline teaches a workshop that explores the link between sensuality and Butoh, as well as receptivity and its impact on the nervous system. This workshop will also draw from the techniques of Noguchi Taiso. No dance experience is necessary; this is an all-level class, and beginners are welcome. Some experience with mindfulness or somatic practice can be helpful. This workshop is trauma-informed.
*Participants will have free access to Vangeline’s online lecture on the topic as a companion to the workshop.
£35 (Pay what you can available by email)