Slouching toward the sensational

Salish Sea Butoh Festival creeps up on its second year

Posted 7/6/22

After the inaugural Olympic Peninsula Butoh Symposium sold out all of its performances, co-founders Iván-Daniel Espinosa and Cosmo Rapaport have brought the event back in hopes of making it an …

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Slouching toward the sensational

Salish Sea Butoh Festival creeps up on its second year

Posted

After the inaugural Olympic Peninsula Butoh Symposium sold out all of its performances, co-founders Iván-Daniel Espinosa and Cosmo Rapaport have brought the event back in hopes of making it an annual occurrence now under the name Salish Sea Butoh Festival.

If you weren’t in one of those standing-room-only crowds last year and aren’t sure what butoh is, don’t worry.

“It’s still kind of an underground, avant-garde dance,” said Espinosa, who was a bit surprised by the community’s overwhelming support right out of the gate.

Originally called ankoku butoh or “dance of darkness,” this form of dance-theatre dates back to the late 1950s.

Disciplined and rigorous, yet spontaneous and idiosyncratic, intellectual and experimental, yet grounded in the human body, butoh today is most commonly known for its slow movements, white face, and body paint, and blending of the grotesque and beautiful. This surreal spectacle slows everything down, breaking the habitual hurried pace of the world to create new opportunities for connection on a deeper level.

Returning this year will be the popular Butoh Cabaret where the audience will watch butoh blend with other performance arts like tap dancing and burlesque.

This year they’ve also added a Disco Butoh event, which will involve a short facilitated exercise to slow down the bodies of participants before breaking loose while a DJ spins classic disco.

When asked what that might look like, Espinosa put forth this example: “What happens if you dance to Earth, Wind & Fire like an iceberg melting slowly over time?”

To represent the ever expanding diversity of butoh, this year world-renowned, avant-garde artists from Japan, Germany, and New York City are coming to Port Townsend, Espinosa said.

Hiroko Tamano and Katsura Kan both hail from butoh’s birthplace of Japan, each with their own storied connections to traditional butoh; while Yuko Kaseki from Berlin, Germany and Jacquelyn-Marie Shannon from New York City, diverge as part of a new generation.

All four of these artists will lead their own workshops where attendees can learn from the masters in four-hour sessions. Each master teacher will also participate in a teaching artists performance gala Saturday, Aug. 13.

As important as the entertainment itself is the fact that this event is being produced and put on by people that are queer and of color, organizers noted. This is an opportunity for the community to support identities that are too often unheard in both the world at large and the local area in particular.

For workshop information and festival registration, visit www.salishseabutoh.com.

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