This review was written in the “Kamikaze Writing Workshop” that Elizabeth Zimmer of “The Village Voice” led. We saw performances at night and then had to submit 300-500 word essays the next morning.

–posted by Gigi Rosenberg
Two lanterns hang in the air on either side of a cloud or maybe it’s a crumpled sheet touched by a yellow and pink sunset. Two dancers walk in deliberate slowness, entranced in a moving meditation. They bend and arch as one body, then break apart to writhe on the ground, then quake as if struck by an epileptic fit.
This scene opened choreographer Kota Yamazaki’s latest butoh dance “Rise:Rose” which premiered at the 2nd weekend of the TBA Festival at PSU’s Lincoln Hall. The program notes that Yamazaki’s piece explores “images of heaven or a world that might come after people die” and how those who have lost a sense of self can rediscover who they are “by finding roots in the far past or even in the unseen future.”
Butoh a contemporary form of semi-improvisational dance, born in post-war Japan at a time of political unrest and artistic experimentation, flowered in the 1960’s. Also called the “Dance of Darkness,” it breaks the rules, exploring worlds of unconventional beauty, decay, fear and the unconscious.
When the dance is slow, the three performers (Yamazaki, Michou Szabo and Mina Nishimura) mesmerize. Their jerky movements evoke a disturbing landscape of a world gone berserk with mechanical shaking.
Although the dance is abstract, the performers move with precision and clarity. Most notable is Yamazaki who dances with seductive fluidness, his arms waving like banners in a violent wind. His undulating body looks as if it might not have bones.
“Rise:Rose” received exuberant response from the opening night audience with many standing and whooping in admiration. Other viewers looked perplexed and one person said: “that was so irritating.”
Butoh is an acquired taste, demanding that you surrender needing to understand and allow the dance to speak to the your subconscious. If you can do this, you may find yourself transported by the last image: the three bodies, bathed in yellow light, undulate in unison, as if they had finally found Yamazaki’s heaven.
– Gigi Rosenberg