Bangkok Post reviews
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: March 28, 2013 at 8:12 am
Whispers of the Shadow of a Quivering Leaf runs until Saturday and on April 1, 4, 5, 6, and 8, at 7.30pm, at B-FloorRoom,PridiBanomyongInstitute. Tickets are 400 baht. Call 089-167-4039 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Butoh dancer Bo Kittiphon returns after a break from butoh performance with a new creation, Whispers of the Shadow of a Quivering Leaf. Over the past two years, theatre-goers may have seen the dancer perform in various movement-based productions, lending her solid energy and rumbustious sense of humour to other theatre companies and artists.
Bo's work is deeply spiritual, and she often uses meditation as part of her creation process and artistic exploration. She not only performs in theatres, but also brings her work to galleries, as well as spiritual and political events.
In Whispers of the Shadow of a Quivering Leaf, Bo says she has discovered her own movement and a new way of communicating. Accompanying the performance is a photograph exhibition chronicling her personal and artistic journeys.
Here, the artist discusses her latest creation, her new artistic direction, and why she chose and still chooses to be a butoh dancer.
Why did you choose butoh? And why do you still keep at it?
I'm in love with it somehow. I feel connected to it. I feel that movement-based work can say a lot. Using words, I can sometimes block feelings and block communication... [A friend] recently asked me what kind of butoh I like, and how I define butoh. I like butoh because I feel it brings me somewhere else, and I hope I can share that with the audience.
Did butoh lead you to Buddhism or spirituality, or do they always go hand in hand for you?
Butoh got me interested in questions about the truth in life, in philosophy, until one day I discovered that religion and butoh are completely separate. But when it comes to butoh and Buddhism as a philosophy, not as a religion, I feel they have the same truth.
Tell us about this piece.
I once performed this piece in India. And I created it after having studied there, where I explored the last butoh score by [butoh pioneer] Tatsumi Hijikata. Each line is a guide that leads you toward your own movement. And on that trip, I felt that I found movements that really came from myself.
So the people who have seen your work will see different qualities of movement in your work?
I can feel there's been a change. I feel this piece is lighter than my other work. In 2009, I went on a meditation retreat with the aim to understand what butoh is all about. But last year, I went on a meditation retreat for myself. I wanted peace of mind. I wanted to clear certain things from myself. But what I discovered instead was a deeper connection between butoh and spirituality.
And you've said this piece has to do with memories, as well.
In Hijikata's score, there are questions about who you are, why you dance, what drives you to dance. And [through this process], I realised why I dance, why I like to dance. It made me look back at my childhood. My childhood home was by the sea, and I could hear the waves all day long. I felt that this was an important part of my life that connects me to butoh.
Tell us about the title of the show, Whispers of the Shadow of a Quivering Leaf.
It's about our own forgotten voices. It's about the hidden things _ our memories, our desire _ things that we think are not there, but actually exist.
Butoh has become so many different things. Some even say that butoh is dead. Is there a kind of butoh that you don't like?
I've created pieces where I just expressed my emotions, but I didn't know what they were. To this day, I still can't say what exactly butoh is, but I know what to communicate and how to communicate in my own way. In my previous work, it was as if I threw something at the audience: I expressed my emotions and felt really fulfilled, but the audiences felt like they had to carry back with them a heavy lump.
Butoh can reveal different faces of beauty, which sometimes appear ugly. It's difficult to say what kind of butoh I don't like, but I think I've found a place where I can give the audience an empty space to reflect on their own thoughts. I think of my body as an empty space. If I were full of my own emotions, there wouldn't be a space for the audiences to journey on their own.