Our "Soar" Big Idea is perhaps the most beautiful and elegant of them all. In it, we look artists who are seeking transcendence and transformation — a kind of search for a higher self. Legendary butoh performer Kazuo Ohno (who died in June, at the age of 103) truly soared. In conjunction with Sankai Juku's performances here Nov 11–14, we pay tribute to Ohno's life and work with six film programs. Butoh, which incorporated elements of existentialism, surrealism, German expressionism, kabuki theatre and eastern spiritual thought, was a reaction in part to the horrors of the World War II. This series includes documentaries about Ohno, films he acted in, performance documentation, and more. Also included is an outstanding documentary on the history of the art form, Butoh: Body on the Edge of Crisis.
Beauty and StrengthNov 4, 2010 7:30pm
This comprehensive overview of Ohno's career is a good place to begin. It includes performances, film excerpts and interviews, examples of his drawings and writings, and biographical information. It allows us to discover many things not seen on stage — original footage of old performances and behind–the–scene looks into workshops and rehearsals. (Approx 110 min, digital video)
A Portrait of Mr. ONov 6, 2010 7:30pm
A Portrait of Mr. O is one of several films directed by Chiaki Nagano featuring Ohno. Filmed during a hiatus in the 1970 in which Ohno retired from public performance, this totally experimental work (very much of a product of the era) proved to be a powerful stimulus upon Ohno's imagination and led him to create his magnum opus in 1977, Admiring La Argentina. Preceded by the short film Kazuo Ohno, by Daniel Schmid. (Approx 80 min, digital video)
Butoh: Body on the Edge of CrisisNov 7, 2010 3:00pm
Using contemporary footage of leading performers, this documentary presents the history of the development of butoh and explores the cultural significance of the art form in Japan. The film includes excerpts from performances by Ohno, Sankai Juku, Dai Rakuda Kan, Tatsumi Hijikata, and many others. (1990, 89 min, digital video)
Public Talk/Q&A with Ushio AmagatsuNov 13, 2010 2:00pm
Behind the exquisite beauty of Sankai Juku's work is its artistic leader Ushio Amagatsu. In an exceptionally rare public talk, Mr. Amagatsu will pay special tribute to Kazuo Ohno, the legendary founder of Butoh, who passed away recently in June at the age of 103. In the intimate space of the YBCA Screening Room, please join us for conversation with this extraordinary artist. YBCA and San Francisco Performances are proud to host this sole public talk with Mr. Amagatsu in conjunction with the presentation of Hibiki — Resonance from Far Away, Nov 11-14. Tickets are extremely limited.
An Offering to HeavenNov 18, 2010 8:30pm
An Offering to Heaven is based around the life and work of Ikebana master, Yukio Nakagawa. Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Like Ohno, Nakagawa is a maverick force; an outsider whose constant self–questioning has distanced him from the conservative world of his art form. Nakagawa's approach to flower arrangement echoes Ohno's stance to the body. Both men are artists of total conviction, and both have dedicated their lives to their disciplines at considerable personal expense. This film documents a collaborative performance from 2002, in which Nakagawa embarked on a dream of casting a million tulips from a helicopter, as the wheelchair-bound yet indomitable Ohno danced under the swirling shower of petals in the rain. Preceded by the short film Jesus Flower Death Life, which offers insight into Ohno's private life through interviews with friends and home movies. (Approx 90 min, digital video)
O, Kind God! & FlowerNov 20, 2010 8:30pm
O, Kind God! is a moving testimony to the effects Ohno's physical evolution has had on his everyday life and dance, and reveals the profound and life embracing emotions so characteristic of all his work. Flower is a compilation of short works on Ohno's activities during the first decade of the 21st century. Though in his early nineties at the turn of the millennium, Ohno remained as committed as ever to performing in public. It features footage from his last solo performance, Flower, in October 2001. (Approx 120 min, digital video)
Kazuo Ohno & Final performance film of Admiring La ArgentinaNov 21, 2010 3:00pm
We close the series with a reprise of Kazuo Ohno by Daniel Schmid (it's worth showing twice!), paired with a complete recording of Ohno's final stage performance of perhaps his greatest work, Admiring La Argentina, from 1994. (Approx 90 min, digital video)
YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
The San Francisco Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Adobe Foundation Fund
YBCA Film/Video media sponsor SF Weekly
Extraordinary gratitude is due to Mr. Toshio Mizohata, Manager of Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio. Without his generosity, wisdom and assistance, this series would never have been possible.