“I graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury in 2003, with BA Drama and Theatre Studies. My work was heavily influenced by butoh dance and my final piece, Skinesis, explored imagery based on the movement in parts of the human body.
Fran Barbe and Tadashi Endo have been major influences on the development of my interest in Butoh. I studied with Fran Barbe at the University of Kent, and with Tadashi Endo at the MAMU Butoh Centrum, Germany.
Since graduating from university, my performance practice has been movement-centric, with collaborations with artists and dancers from various mediums, including bboying, tabla and animation.
At the beginning of my Masters course, I knew that I wanted to apply butoh processes to my work and to collaborate with other practitioners. In the first unit, I made the decision to use objects and costume to develop a sense of character in a butoh piece. I used Dickens’ Great Expectations and the character of Miss Havisham as a stimulus, which lead to wearing a head-to-toe bridal veil, and interacting with objects representing aspects of her character and life as depicted in the novel. I mined imagery from the description of her character and used butoh methods to translate them through the body, into movement.
This research lead me to use fabric in my work, with my second work: After the Rain, inspired by Eric Satie’s compositions. This in turn influenced my final Master’s Project, The Seafarer, which is documented in the Sine Nomine exhibition.
The Seafarer is movement-theatre, inspired by elements of butoh dance and bunraku puppetry practice. Butoh methods of visualising imagery to stimulate movement fuse with object-manipulation practice. White fabric is moved and danced in response to imagined scenes, objects and sensations. A variety of fabrics are used, chosen for their weight, texture and natural movement qualities.
I collaborated with Mara Mihalache, who drew illustrations based on imagery from the poem and the butoh-fu score, and Ilze Briede, who mapped these blue-toned illustrations onto the moving fabric in the performance.
I designed the set to reflect the theme of the piece, and piled rock salt in organic shapes on the floor, which were then illuminated by mapped animated light patterns, designed to flicker back and forth in waves. The shape of the salt piles was designed to be like small islands of sand on the beach, as the tide recedes. Salt was also chosen to honour and reflect the Japanese ritual of purifying a theatre space by scattering salt.
The performance aims to appeal to the ‘seeing mind,’ as described by Ha Poong Kim, and create an aesthetic experience for an audience. The minimal set and choice of two-tone colour palette are designed to allow for transformation by movement, and to create an atmosphere which is calming and reflective, so that the audience can experience the performance in a dream-like state.
The performance is the result of several months of practice-led research, which sought to answer the following questions:
-How can elements of butoh practice be incorporated into devising object-based performance?
-How can language stimulate movement in performance?”