inkBoat and Ko Murobushi in PhillyMay 4th, 2012 | By Steven Weisz | Category: Archived Articles
Painted Bride Art Center will present inkBoat with Ko Murobushi in The Crazy Cloud Collection in the Pennsylvania performance of their national tour.
The Crazy Cloud Collection is a collision. The life of 15th century Buddhist monk and poet Ikkyu Sojun meets modern humanity, and questions arise that provoke and prod the order of our lives. Crazy Cloud is choreographed by Ko Murobushi, recognized in Japan as a leading inheritor of Hijikata’s original vision of Butoh, and inkBoat’s Shinichi Iova-Koga, a younger generation artist who has created a hybrid form of performance integrating Butoh dance, physical theater and martial arts. Together, these artists invite the ghost of Ikkyu, known for provocative, biting and unorthodox poetry, to share the stage with them.
The sound score has been crafted by the collection of musicians known as “Causing a Tiger” (Shahzad Ismaily, Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi). Working intimately together for years with inkBoat, this trio is known for creating textured dreamscapes, cobbled together from fractured memories and travelogues. Bossi describes the paradoxical experience of sculpting the sound for Crazy Cloud:
“Recording the score for Crazy Cloud was like a waking dream in which a trusted ally tells you that everything is the right answer, but that the EVERYTHING must be distilled, essentialized. It represented the co-mingling of complete freedom, ultimate restraint, and unbridled bravery. A chance to record something so real, that you might smell it over the stereo. A chance to reveal something so honest and outside of yourself, that you might just die in the making of it.“
Kihlstedt remembers this:
“More space,” Shinichi said, and then, again, “more space!” . . . until we were stretched and lengthened and until pulse and meter evaporated and we were left with the just bones of a sound. Breaking egg shells, the wind shield wipers of an old bus in a rain storm, snapping pencils and sticks, the in utero heartbeat of my daughter, a Transylvanian garden, crumpling paper, crows, bees, gongs . . . these are only a handful of things we experimented with in the process of making this score.”
Integral to the development of the dance are the co-collaborators Dana Iova-Koga and Sherwood Chen. The story of Ikkyu’s young lover, the blind musician Shinjo, became an entry point for Dana’s relationship with the poet monk, and offered the sensual feminine counterpoint and muse to Ikkyu’s masculine eroticism. Peiling Kao will dance Dana’s role in this production, offering her own interpretation of what it means to exist without sight and in love. Sherwood’s subtly potent presence suggests a meditative quality, a calm constant. He describes Murobushi’s direction in embodying Ikkyu:
“Ko did not shy away from ambiguity, awkwardness and absurdity in the dance material we developed, welcoming these qualities as real and substantive in the scenes we developed. The uncomfortable folly which he pushed us towards in some of these scenes for me begged the question of whose discomfort was being evoked—namely my own internalized and socialized condition. Through our body and actions rendered at once vulnerable, ravaged and defiant, Crazy Cloud summons mirrors which Ikkyu progressively sought to hold up to society which still resonate today. As performers, Ko’s direction demanded us to doff self-importance and aesthetic polish to commit to raw, absurd and ever-fleeting existences.”
Ikkyu (1394-1481), is considered one of the most significant and eccentric figures in Zen Buddhism. The facts of his life have perhaps morphed into myth, but he remains a folk hero to many. He is renowned and respected for his irreverent and straightforward insights into life and the human experience. Ikkyu’s life and work were filled with contradictions, shining examples of the paradox that is Zen. Master of poetry, calligraphy and music, as well as vagabond and patron of brothels and bars, he was immersed in both “high” and “low” culture. He was sharply critical of formalistic religion and the false piety he perceived in the Buddhism of his time, yet reached a position of high stature in Daitoku-ji, a prestigious temple in Kyoto. In this man, polarities collided – the refined and the crass, the frank and the esoteric. His name roughly translates into “One Pause,” signifying his moment of enlightenment that fell in the space between two crow calls. In contrast to this name, which conjures images of peace, is Ikkyu’s nickname, Crazy Cloud.
“Have a good look – stop the breath, peel off the skin, and everybody ends up looking the same. No matter how long you live, the result is not altered. Cast off the notion that “I exist.” Entrust yourself to the windblown clouds, and do not wish to live forever.” – Ikkyu
Shinichi Iova-Koga, (Co-Director)
Shinichi asks how, within the artificial construct of the theater, can both audience and performer experience a vital moment together? How do the stories within our body meet the situation facing us right now? As a platform to pose such questions, he continues the operation and artistic life of the San Francisco based performance company inkBoat (founded by Shinichi in 1998).
inkBoat’s performances evoke both the traditional and the experimental, drawing heavily from movements (political, artistic, personal) of challenge. Each performance is a dialogue between the apparent and hidden worlds.
Ko Murobushi, (Co-Director)
Ko is one of the best known and most acclaimed Butoh artists in the world and is recognized in Japan as a leading inheritor of Tatsumi Hijikata’s original vision of Butoh. He trained and performed with Hijikata from 1969, and later briefly gave up dance and trained as a yamabushi (an ascetic mountain monk). Once back into society he founded the Butoh Group DAIRAKUDAKAN. He created the Butoh-magazine, Hageshii Kisetsu (Violent Season), and founded a female Butoh Company, ARIADONE, for which he choreographed a number of pieces. Two years later, he founded an all-male Butoh-group: SEBI. He also created his unit Ko&Edge Co. with three young Japanese dancers, with whom he presented Handsome Blue Sky at the JADE 2003 Hijikata Memorial in Japan. Currently based in Tokyo, Ko continues to tour internationally throughout Europe and South America.
Painted Bride Art Center presents inkBoat with Ko Murobushi in Crazy Cloud Collection
Saturday May 5, 2012 @ 8pm
Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door
More information: paintedbride.org