Electric Japan: Kentaro Kujirai & Barabbas Okuyama
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.