Japanese Butoh dance in Rye

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Fukushima Butterfly

Last Saturday August 29 I went to the Rye Studio School to see a new work by Yumino Seki entitled Manjusaka. Manjusaka is a vivid red flower of the amaryllis family that flowers at the autumn equinox, In the Buddhist tradition it is a time when there are openings for the living and dead to converge. The choreography is drawn from Butoh, a form of avant-garde Japanese dance theatre. Butoh appeared in the late 1950s as a move away from both modern western style dance and the more traditional Japanese styles such as Noh.

The piece is performed in a space with a roaming audience. It creates a multi-dimensional experience for viewers incorporating choreography, light installation, soundscape and guided viewing points. Reflecting the true essence of Butoh, it is a fusion of East and West, contemporary and traditional. There are five sketches, Fukushima Butterfly, the twins, Gokuraku (Heavenly Plateau), Manjusaka and the three rivers.

This the first time I had been to such a production but I found it a real treat for the eyes and ears. In the first sketch, Fukushima Butterfly (see main photo), the dancers used their right hands to represent the butterflies intertwining in flight as they do. There were three dancers Yumino Seki, Alison Grace and Fabiola Santana.

Yumino Seki is based in Hastings, has a BA in Fine Art from Guildhall University, London. She has been involved with Butoh since 1999. I am sure this is not the last time she will perform in Rye.

Ray Prewer