Vancouver's Acclaimed Butoh Dance Company Reimagines a Lifetime of Work

Vancouver's Acclaimed Butoh Dance Company Reimagines a Lifetime of WorkKokoro Dance - Vancouver, B.C, presents the world premiere of Reading the Bones, a work for six dancers distilled from the 33-year history of Kokoro Dance's butoh-inspired creations. Performances take place at 8pm, Sept 18th - 21st and 25th - 28th at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre. Kokoro Dance co-founders, Barbara Bourget and Jay Hirabayashi, are reimagining choreography from their past works, and setting their powerful, provocative, and passionate movement on Katie Cassady (in her 20's), Molly McDermott (in her 30's), Deanna Peters close to her 40's), Salomé Nieto (in her 50's), and themselves. Bourget is now in her 60's and Hirabayashi, in his 70's. This 50-year generational spread gives uniquely rich and deep nuances to the performances. Music for the new work is by Joseph Hirabayashi; lighting by Gerald King.

Since 1986 Kokoro Dance has sought to expand Canadian culture and created contemporary performances directly inspired by the art form and philosophical movement of butoh. Hijikata Tatsumi "the architect of Butoh" and Ohno Kazuo "the soul", founded the movement as an insurrection to the western styles of ballet and modern dance. They created a more primal humanistic movement, frequently characterized by painted and whitened bodies, ethereal and androgynous presentation and shaved heads. Kokoro Dance's butoh expression gives recurring attention to the seven aesthetic principles of Zen philosophy: kanso - simplicity; fukinsei - asymmetry or irregularity; shibumi - beauty in the understated; shizen - naturalness without pretense; yugen - subtle grace; datsuzoku - freeness; and seijaku - tranquility. These terms are encompassed in a world view that the Japanese call wabi sabi - the acceptance of transience and imperfection.

Reading the Bones draws reference from Osteomancy, or "Bone Reading". A divination ritual practiced and performed by many cultures world-wide for thousands of years. The practice of foretelling the future through fragments of the past, bones are cast and through the shapes they create, infinity is revealed. Bourget and Hirabayashi explore the notion of returning to one's roots and past in order to anticipate the future. Through primordial humanistic gestures, tremorous cycles of breathing and erratic yet controlled movement, they convey the trials and vulnerability of different stages of life and being.

Kokoro Dance Theatre Society was incorporated as a non-profit society in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 31,1986. Its mandate is to re-define the meaning of Canadian culture through teaching, producing and performing new dance theatre with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary collaboration and cross-cultural exploration.

Taking its name from the Japanese word kokoro - meaning heart, soul and spirit - Kokoro Dance creates deeply evocative and provocative performances. Inspired by the Japanese art form known as butoh, Kokoro Dance fuses the aesthetics of East and West. Since 1986, Kokoro Dance has created and performed works for the proscenium theatre, for site-specific environmental locations, for young audiences in schools, and for impromptu improvisations in jazz night clubs. The company has performed across Canada, in the United States, in Europe, Cuba, Mexico, and Argentina.

Tickets from $25 - $30. Ticket and more info at or call 604-662-4966.

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