Pin It

Shake Your Butoh 

Bodily fluids, nudity, fake genital mutilation: the outrageous dance-theater of Dairakudakan

Wednesday, Jun 25 2003
Often described as raw, shocking, powerful, and perverse, Dairakudakan is regarded as one of the most spectacular butoh dance companies to emerge since the genre's creation in post-atomic-bomb Japan. Founded in 1972 by butoh master Akaji Maro, Dairakudakan confounds and enchants audiences with its radical form of dance-theater. Butoh is usually associated with slow gestures, white body paint, and strange, contorted choreography, but Dairakudakan doesn't always fit those stereotypes.

As part of its 30th anniversary, the troupe embarked on an international tour, presenting Kochuten: Paradise in a Jar, a series of surprising and strange scenes that feature 10 men in white body paint and flesh-colored G-strings moving fluidly between comedic theater and bizarre, unpredictable dance progressions. As one would expect of butoh, a form created in the spirit of rebellion and unorthodoxy, Kochuten is an irreverent manifesto of sorts, a physical exploration of themes such as the search for self and the conflict between the individual and the communal.

Moving to a musical backdrop of rock, reggae, opera, and Japanese pop, the skilled dancer-actors have an astonishing ability to transform their actions and facial expressions from gleeful to ghoulish, grotesque to graceful. In one particularly dramatic vignette, a dancer seems to explore his deep and complex relationship with a squat, round table: The inanimate object serves convincingly as a source of comfort, frustration, anger, and love. Dairakudakan is also reputed for its outrageous and seditious humor, and Kochuten features a scene that involves dancers chopping off their penises (they use hot dogs) with a kitchen knife while howling perversely; the troupe has been known to utilize bodily fluids and nudity in past productions. Now, Kochuten showcases the next generation of one of Japan's most acclaimed companies.

About The Author

Bernice Yeung


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular