New Butoh from Britain

Review in Issue 7-2 | Summer 1995

We were shown four pieces created by British performers, opening and ending respectively with solos: White by Adrian George; and Earth Dances III, The Hag’s Womb by Louise Money in collaboration with musician Andy Lale. Although impressed by the focus and intensity of their individual performances, it was disappointing to see what felt like a representational reproduction of Butoh; I wanted the performers to delve deeper into the definition and explore a British identity for the form.

The duet Toading by Celia Little and Helen Massy, accompanied by saxophonist Jonathan Lambert, was simple and honest, expressing a silent communication and ease between the two artists, rarely seen in performance.

By far the most inventive and original piece of the evening was Nic Sandiland’s Broken White Vessel, a duet with Dianne Hepple and cellists Ian Thompson and Yogos Askouris. A multimedia piece incorporating live music, slides, and video, it opened with life-size images of each performer projected onto themselves. These apparitions seem trapped inside their own bodies, the slightest movement insinuating torment. Throughout the piece the cellists lay on the floor either side of the stage, their discordant sounds building fiercely, supporting a series of images on the video screen: snails, a bowl, rivulets of water. The combination of effects and the slow, inevitable coming together of the dancers centre stage, created an absorbing and tense piece of work. For me this was ‘New British Butoh’ – something truly original, created through the concept of Butoh without relying on the image.

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-2
p. 22