June 2016 archive

Butoh Practice: Yael Gaathon and Vangeline

Diary from the workshop “Dancing with ghosts” by Yael Gaathon (DK/ISR) and Vangeline (USA/FR) in Berlin, June 2016.  The distinctive methods and exquisite work of these artists stands out  in the modern Butoh scene; having a mature approach and with full commitment Yael and Vangeline transmit the essence of Butoh that they inherited from the Masters and developed through their own work.

Yael Gaathon:
“In Butoh it’s your soul that dances and your body follows” Kazuo Ohno stated. Body is a tool to express the dance that comes out of our  soul. The work is to train our minds so that we can get in contact with our souls, with ourselves. Mind training requires a lot of patience and compassion. Number one rule – no judging. Judging means adding an “idiot” on top of my mistake. I can observe my mistake, admit it and fix it. If I add “what an idiot”,  this is judging. This is the one most destructive thing that we do. Don’t judge yourself, don’t judge others.

In walking – there’s no begin, no end, no time… no past, no future
Every fraction of the movement is equally important. There’s no goal or highlighted point. All points on the line of the movement are equal in importance.
Yoshito Ohno talks about “white canvas” – training yourself to arrive at “zero’ point”, becoming like a white canvas that you can then paint on it whatever you want.

Eyes with no ambition. They are open so they can see, but they don’t care. With this method we look for eyes that are strong and soft at the same time. Our eyes are looking into our souls. You need a lot of courage and a strong center – look the tiger in the eye.

Having prepared the space –  a darkened room, impregnated with the scent of white sage, Vangeline started the training  with a dynamic physical warm-up.  Her powerful and challenging work moved the participants into the whirlpool of their own energies that layer by layer purified their bodies and minds, bringing them to the core of simple existence beyond frames of “self”: “This is difficult and difficult is the opening”.

Workshop with Yael Gaathon and Vangeline
Workshop with Yael Gaathon and Vangeline
Photo: Choy Ka Fai. Location: Tatwerk Berlin
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Special thanks to Choy Ka Fai.