Takao Kawaguchi About Kazuo Ohno
Reliving the Butoh Diva’s Masterpieces

Reliving the Butoh Diva’s Masterpieces


The performer Takao Kawaguchi reproduces the dance of Kazuo Ohno, the inventor of butô, using video recordings of his creations. This fascinating work on authenticity and depth gives rise to far-reaching questions.

In 2010, the dancer Kazuo Ohno, who co-founded butô with Tatsumi Hijikata, was on his death bed, aged one hundred and three years old. Three years later, after having worked with a number of different collectives, namely ATA DANCE and Dumb Type, Takao Kawaguchi, a polymorphous performer, began immersing himself in the life of this iconic figure. His efforts came to fruition with About Kazuo Ohno, a show which made waves on the Japanese choreographic circuit. Kawaguchi undertook a process of “copying”, literally, the Master using video recordings of some of his major performances, including Homage to Argentina, a solo work in 1977 which hailed his triumphant return to the stage. But is this a case of mere reenactment? Not really, in that imitating a butô choreography equates to a denial of the very essence of an art form which is supposed to stem from the deepest self. In a way which is both respectful yet non-reverential, and mischievous without resorting to parody, Kawaguchi questions, via this “duo with Kazuo Ohno’s illusory image” his own fascination for butô and its star. This interplay generated by the bewitching tension between a phantom and his reflection, and between a body and its image, summons up a kaleidoscope of different questions: how can an instant in dance be passed on so that it is not lost forever? Where does the original begin, and where does the copy end? In the hands of Kawaguchi, butô, this “dance of darkness”, born from the depths of the soul, becomes a prodigious mise en abyme.
Running time: 1h50