Savannah's Theatre Blog

Butoh Performance: Session 1, October 5th, 2010

Posted in All About Butoh by Savannah on October 5, 2010

Today in class we started collaborating ideas about the Butoh performance we plan to put on or rather a ‘showcase’ of what we learnt in the Zen Zen Zo workshop. The class had actually talked about it a bit yesterday but I was at a music excursion and wasn’t there. They had already got some ideas down which mainly consisted of exercises we did in the Zen Zen Zo workshop such as the energy scale and the back dance.

I was really interested in using those exercises of course but I thought that we should incorporate them into other exercises that we had perhaps discovered in previous drama or dance classes. There was a performance (dance) that I saw at VCA on their open day and I think it was about grief. There was one girl who started with a twitch in her hand and it was a recurring movement throughout the piece. There was one section which I remember very vividly. All the dancers (I think there were about 20) minus about 6 who were standing along the walls, spread out, were standing in a line; one behind the other. The main girl with the twitch did so (twitched) and slowly it spread throughout the line. To me this meant they were sharing her pain whether that is positive or negative (as in the twitch, grief perhaps, was like a contagious disease) was up to the viewer. I thought of it as positive; it seemed to me that they were helping her. So this was something I suggested which came from that although I thought of it travelling through one persons body and then being “thrown” or “transferred” to the next person and they would pick up the twitch wherever they felt it hit. The person who threw the twitch would continue (perhaps) at a slightly less extravagant level; they would have a slight twitch.

Something I also suggested, or thought should be incorporated, was falling and catching (contemporary dance!). I suggested it because I can see it really involving self and group awareness physically in that there could be people ready to catch those falling.

Spacejump: This was an exercise we did in class. I had done a slightly different version where there would be two people start in a scene and either:

a) Person A would jump out and a person C would jump in and start a new scene

or

b) Person C would jump in and start a new scene

Option B, I always found hardest simply because it involves more concentration and if not everybody is concentrating it falls apart and becomes chaotic. We, however, did neither. We did option C:

c) Person A jumps out and person C jumps in and takes person A’s character in the same scene. A new character was added.

It wasn’t majorly different and I actually found it easier because I didn’t feel I was floundering. There was a clear concept there (4 year olds making sand castles in a sand pit) and  I could grasp onto it. There was another major difference in that we couldn’t talk. I found that I actually loved this because there was so much awareness (group and self). We weren’t relying on words so we actually had to create a scene using our bodies, mime and interaction via movement. It was refreshing and I felt that there was a more pure message achieved.

For my first go in the spacejump scene, I was a pretty wussy child but a perfectionist all the same. I think I may have been reverting to my own childhood with this because I was incredibly shy and quiet as a kid… and a perfectionist.

The second time I went in, I was a brat (the new character). This was definitely not what I was like as a child but I enjoyed playing it more. I also enjoyed finding childlike qualities as well as child like ways to show emotions, particularly frustration. As you grow older, strong emotions like anger and frustration are held back a lot and I think being upfront about emotions was what I found refreshing.

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