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Men at Dance -- from Noh to Butoh


October 15th, 2007 - January 8th, 2008

Program Locations:

Men at Dance-from Noh to Butoh, a photography exhibition by Miro Ito, is a visual representation of the dichotomy that characterizes Japanese performing arts of the past and present. The exhibition is supported in part by a grant from The Japan Foundation and The Consulate General of Japan in New York. Ito's work focuses on two distinct forms of Japanese dance - Noh and Butoh - capturing the intrinsic qualities of each form, establishing a unique relationship between them. Noh, a traditional dance form, began in the 14th Century, whereas Butoh is a modern form, characterized by a subversion of conventional notions of dance. The exhibition is presented in cooperation with the 2007 New York Butoh Festival.

Miro Ito searches for a way to express the synergy that exists within the dichotomy of two forms that are separated by 600 years of history and development. Despite obvious aesthetic differences, both Noh and Butoh share certain common features, and the photographer seeks to use each dancer's body as a bridge between the visible and the invisible, the tangible and the intangible, movement and meaning. The exhibition will display fifty images, each a portrayal of one of Japan's most distinguished Noh or Butoh performers. Using specialized techniques of studio photography, Miro Ito seeks to portray each performer as if his/her body itself is the performance.

A display of fifty photographs, "Men at Dance - from Noh to Butoh,- will introduce viewers to the forms, lines, and images that characterize the two traditional performing arts styles, Noh and Butoh. Presenting the photographer's vision of these forms, the exhibition explores the impact of the history and origin of each style, focusing on the juxtaposition of past and present. The photographs depict both continuity and contrast existing within the distinct styles.

Noh, a traditional Japanese dance form, developed from a shamanistic tradition and offerings to deities. Traditionally performed by patriarchs/men, this dance form originally derived from Buddhist rituals, such as Shunie, which was performed annually by monks beginning in the 7th Century. The Noh art form eventually shifted from a purely religious form to an -art of drama,- however, it is often performed in temples in Japan's ancient, former capital, Nara, incorporating dance, recitations, music, masks, and costumes into the representative traditional performing art form in Japan.

Butoh, conceived in the 1950s, is the foremost contemporary performing art form in Japan, overwhelmingly expressionistic in contrast to the hyper-stylized aesthetics of Noh. Butoh is regarded as reflecting the traditional perception of the body, wherein the body performance serves as a portal connected to the universal spirit of a particular aesthetic training and tradition.

The renowned performers documented in the exhibition are Butoh Performers: Ko MUROBUSHI (Butoh Dancer and Choreographer); Sal Vanilla (Butoh troupe) - Giga HIZUME, KIK_07, et al.; and Noh Masters: Yukifusa TAKEDA, Tomoyuki TAKEDA, Fumiyuki TAKEDA (Kanze School), Hodaka KOMPARU (Komparu School. For additional information on the Butoh Festival, please contact