Katherina Vogel and Marie-Gabrielle Rotie, A Double Bill: Velvet Igloo and Scapula

Review in Issue 12-2 | Summer 2000

Artaud would have loved the first piece in this evening’s double bill of New Butoh performances. In response to the rasping vocal contortions of Phil Minton, and an electronic soundscape by Martin Schutz, dancer Katherina Vogel flailed, staggered and stomped her way across the stage for forty-five terrifying, sometimes ear-splitting, but always compelling, minutes. This extraordinary performance seemed to be ripped straight from the core of the collective unconscious.

Powerful sources – both seen and unseen, heard and unheard – pummelled Vogel’s graceful body. Sometimes her jerky movements seemed in direct response to Minton’s strangulated vocal pyrotechnics, as though acting on the whim of an invisible puppeteer. At other times, she was responding viscerally to a spiritual force emanating from deep within. It felt like watching a magnificent swan in its final death throes. Vogel’s performance eloquently demonstrated the extraordinary power of Butoh to communicate on a purely emotional level. Frequently painful and uncomfortable as they may be to watch, performances as brilliant as this one lodge themselves in the heart for a lifetime.

A hard act to follow, but Marie-Gabrielle Rotie’s Scapula reached the same high standard. Free from the angst of Vogel’s Velvet Igloo, Rotie’s piece was, in contrast, quietly contemplative and full of beauty, space and calm. Highly adept at the astonishingly precise and poised physical moves that typify the Butoh performer’s art, Rotie performs with a brooding intensity. Always maintaining a strong centre of gravity, she dances with grace and purpose, suggesting a bird who, captured in a cage, forgets how to sing. Marie-Gabrielle Rotie is a prime mover behind the London Butoh Network and she deserves considerable praise and recognition for the important work she is doing introducing practitioners and audiences alike to this intriguing artform.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-2
p. 28