Last night I saw Juju Alishina perform Red Night in Stroud, a mesmerising and compelling evening, with three contrasting pieces showcasing different aspects of Alishina’s style. First a mysterious creature, in textured layers of kimono, looked out at the world from beneath a red veil, tasting the elements with her tongue. This was a wonderful play of power and rebellion, a dark liturgy mixing the religious fervour of a demented nun with the sweeping turbulence of a torrent of water.  Next Alishina transformed into a dynamic martial figure, a Japanese anime heroine, moving with direct impactive choreography to an impressionistic soundtrack of Japanese street sounds.  Viol player Thol Mason brought frisson to the final piece, Desire for infinity, in which Alishina’s red dress and a white sculptural costume conjured images of sea life, the moon and the goddess: the frills of a cuttlefish and the clouds of heaven. Alishina created starkly beautiful images, moving with elegant precision and flow, leaving a feeling of an encounter with some beautiful profound inner truth. (more…)

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Café Reason Butoh Theatre is an experimental performance group specialising in butoh, the iconoclastic dance form that originated in postwar Japan.  Established in Oxford in 1997, Café Reason is the only permanent butoh company in the UK outside London and has achieved a fine reputation for its innovative theatre, site-specific and improvised performances.  An abandoned dolls’ house and an unclaimed bag of costumes were the unexpected starting points for the group’s enigmatic new show Dolls’ House which premieres at the Pegasus Theatre on Friday 16th January.  Through the compelling medium of butoh, with live music and film, it explores the dream symbol of “the House” and reveals the inhabitants’ secret lives and eternal dilemmas.  Dark, moving and humorous, the physical performance is underpinned by live music from a trio of multi-instrumentalists, complementing their compositions with digital effects and found sound to create a haunting soundscape.

Dolls’ House is a collaboration between Café Reason, film maker Dariusz Dziala, and musicians Malcolm Atkins, Bruno Guastalla and Pete McPhaill.  This truly original theatre experience has lighting design by Josh Tomalin.  Dancers are Jeannie Donald McKim, Ayala Kingsley, Fabrizia Verrechia, Ana Barbour and Cath Blackfeather: also appearing are Alex Donaghy, Andreia Paixao, Alan Frank and Paula Esposito.

Performances:  Friday 15th, Saturday 16th January 7.30pm

Venue:  Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE

Tickets:  £13, £9 concessions, £6 under 18s

Book online here or call 01865 812150

Find out more about Café Reason here and follow them on Facebook here

Twitter:  @CafeReason #dollbutoh

On each Scratch Night at the Old Fire Station, local and regional theatre performers, comedians or dance artists perform works in progress for audiences to watch and give feedback on.  This month, DANCE SCRATCH takes place, supported by the wonderful organisation, Oxford Dance Forum (ODF) on Tuesday 21st July.  Dancers get a chance to try out works-in-progress in a safe space; for audiences it is an opportunity to see new dance work and give feedback.  Artists presenting on this occasion are Butoh group Cafe Reason, Paulette Mae, Anuradha Chaturvedi & Meena Anand, and Roosa Leimu-Brown & Anja Meinhardt.
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Café Reason Butoh Dance Theatre and voice artist Anne L Ryan join forces to create a highly original and eccentric piece of physical theatre, combining butoh dance with an extraordinary vocal landscape, for forthcoming performances at the Old Fire Station.  A woman is searching for meaning and balance in her life, moving between the sensory, material world of the Lion and the spiritual realm of the Unicorn to find her one, true desire.  Inspired by the intriguing medieval tapestries The Lady and The Unicorn, The Heart’s Desire uses both voice and movement to present a quirky and playful exploration of our five senses – taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight – and their rôle in our lives. (more…)

A UNIQUE ENCOUNTER:
The duet of Macarena Ortuzar and New York based Shahzad Ismaily has played in the USA and Japan since 2000.  They have collaborated with Laurie Anderson, John Zorn and Butoh dance maker Min Tanaka among others. This will be their first European collaboration, an encounter not to be missed and a rare opportunity to see these two exceptional performers together. (more…)

Movement on the edge of stillness…sound on the edge of silence…

Sound for Butoh workshop, South Devon, 22 and 23 September 2012.

Space and time seemed to open up on this weekend workshop – perhaps it was the voice and breathwork that stilled my monkey-mind and allowed me to see more deeply into the heart of things. I remember Kate standing on the rocks of Bell Tor on Dartmoor, hair blowing in the wind, her long limbs mirroring the flight of a crow and the sweep of the desolate landscape; Fabrizia rolling her soft body on the jagged rocks by Prawle Point as the wild whipping sea crashed around her. This was the fourth in a series of workshops co-led by musician Adrian Freedman and myself exploring how butoh dancers can create soundscapes within which to move. (more…)