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Electric Japan: Kentaro Kujirai & Barabbas Okuyama

(This is a past event and is no longer running)

As part of Electric Japan KENTARO KUJIRAI & BARABBAS OKUYAMA, performers at the at the forefront of contemporary exploration of traditional Butoh dance, share excerpts of their work together.


Kentaro Kujirai & Barabbas Okuyama

Kentaro Kujirai studied butoh under the founder of the Tenshikan (Sant’Angelo) company, Akira Kasai, while Barabbas Okuyama was a member of Akaji Maro’s globe-trotting Dairakudakan (Great Camel Battleship) butoh company.

Then, in 2012, the pair first got to know each other when they were involved in HA YA SA SU RA HI ME a collaboration work between Tenshikan and Dairakudakan that was performed at Setagaya Public Theatre in Tokyo.

After that the two dancers in their thirties decided to work together in search of new forms of expression through butoh. The first fruit of that collaboration came in 2018 when Okuyama performed a dynamic, Kujirai-choreographed solo work titled A HUM SAN SUI that many hailed as breathing fresh life into butoh.

Following that success, in April 2019 the pair launched KANTARO KUJIRAI & BARABBAS OKUYAMA, a project seeking new possibilities in butoh. This led to them showcasing a new duo program, HI NO SHI DU KU, at the J-K (Japan-Korea) Duo Dance Festival in Saitama, Japan, in May, with further performances scheduled when the festival is staged in Seoul, South Korea, in November. In between those events, they were invited to stage A HUM SAN SUI in August at the prestigious Changmu Performing Arts Festival in Seoul, where their stylish and energetic contemporary butoh was enthusiastically received.

Butoh (or butō) — meaning “dance of darkness” — is an idiosyncratic and physically demanding dance form based around fluidity in motion in response to sound and space that emerged in Japan in the 1950s. Expect distinctive, hyper-expressive choreography that’s raw, haunting, beautiful — and magical.

Additional Information

Barabbas Okuyama

In 2001, Barabbas Okuyama joined the world-famous Dairakudakan (Great Camel Battleship) butoh company founded in 1972 by Akaji Maro, its leader to this day. Besides taking roles in all Dairakudakan’s productions, in its studio programs he choreographed and performed his own original works Sagram-Boy (2009), Crucifixion (2013) and the solo piece U Tsu Shi Mi (2016).

In 2016 he left Dairakudakan to start his own company, Project Barabbas, which has staged his original solo works Trigger Point (2016), KA BA NE GA TA RI (2017) and SA SO HA RE TE (2018).

In April 2019, Barabbas and fellow butoh dancer Kentaro Kujirai started a project they called KENTARO KUJIRAI & BARABBAS OKUYAMA, staging their dance-duo work HI NO SHI DU KU in the following month.

Meanwhile, Barabbas has performed in butoh and contemporary dance programs, and at several international festivals, with renowned artists such as Josef Nadj, Akira Kasai, Naoko Ito, Motoko Hirayama, Mitsutake Kasai and Ikuyo Kuroda. He has also appeared as a butoh artist in theatre productions and films.


Kentaro Kujirai
Butoh dancer, eurythmist

1980: Born in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture

2002: Began studying under leading butoh dancer Akira Kasai

2005: Became a main dancer in Kasai’s famous Tenshikan (Sant’Angelo) company, a position he still holds that takes him to many festivals in Japan and abroad

2010: Founded dance unit CORVUS with Tenshikan colleague Makoto Sadakata

2015: Founded his own company, KENTARO KUJIRAI Konpeito, and started to collaborate with artists from other genres, including the expressive movement art of eurythmy

2016: A TV documentary followed Kujirai as he created his work Doku to Tsurugi (Poison and Sword)

2018: Won the Newcomer Prize in Japan’s annual Dance Critics Awards

2019: Started a project with butoh artist Barabbas Okuyama called KENTARO KUJIRAI & BARABBAS OKUYAMA, which staged their dance-duo work HI NO SHI DU KU in May

In addition, Kujirai has a successful career as a fashion model and was recently appointed to represent the world-famous HOMME PLISSE ISSEY MIYAKE brand.

He has also collaborated with many artists from outside the dance world, including the poet Shuri Kido, photographer Yuriko Takagi, musician Yosuke Fujita, as well as with fashion designers, painters and choral groups.