Vancouver’s Kokoro Dance Present Raw and Provocative Embryotrophic Cavatina

Photo Credit: Chris Randle

Aficionados of the artistry and emotional impact of butoh can look forward this month to the world premiere of a ground-breaking production by Vancouver’s Kokoro Dance.

Meanwhile, those new to this powerfully evocative dance form can revel for the first time in a work that will delve into what it means to be human, beyond the trappings of personal and societal demands. As the culmination of twenty years of conceptualization and work, Embryotrophic Cavatina promises to be revelatory.

From September 20-23 and 26-29, 2017, Vancouver’s Kokoro Dance will be presenting Embryotrophic Cavatina at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) in Yaletown. Tickets range from $25-$30.

The local dance company, started in 1986, has performed globally to much acclaim. They draw upon and adapt, with a contemporary ethos, the Japanese dance form butoh that emerged from the aftermath of WWII as a bodily cry of feeling rooted in nature. Founders Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo created a provocative physical expression, often involving whitened bodies and slow and intentional movement. It was intended to be a revolutionary reaction against more Western styles of dance at the time.

Image of Jay Hirabayashi and Barbara Bourget by Peter Eastwood

Vancouver’s Kokoro Dance have taken butoh as inspiration for their multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural dance theatre. The Japanese word kokoro, defined as heart, soul, and spirit, infuses all they do.

Their latest production, Embryotrophic Cavatina, directed by Barbara Bourget and Jay Hirabayashi, was first conceptualized in 1998 when the two expressed a desire to set Zbigniew Preisner’s 69 minute orchestral composition, Requiem for my friend, to dance. The music, they felt, had an intensity of feeling that could be heightened further through the choreographed physical movements of bodies in performance.

Nearly two decades later, Embryotrophic Cavatina is being born. It promises to be worth the wait. The conjoined name emphasizes the primal and basic in its referencing of the nutrient material in placental mammals, as well as short lyrical music without repetition.

Photo Credit: Chris Randle

The piece will involve four dance artists, Bourget, Hirabayashi, Molly McDermott, and Billy Marchenski, who will use their bodily performances to convey and consider a range of raw human emotions and states. Movements and postures will be contorted and visceral as the dancers push the limits of what it means to be human with vulnerabilities and complexities.

Image of Billy Marchenski by Chris Randle

There will be nowhere to hide for them as they remove literal and figurative layers of protection. They will be left with their stripped down bodies in their anguished and hopeful beauty.

Image of Molly McDermott by Chris Randle

The aesthetics of the dancers’ forms will be enhanced by costuming by Tsuneko Kokubo while paintings from her exhibition Plant Memory, which explores immigrants and immigrant plants, will serve as the backdrop to the performance.

Further info and tickets can be found on-line.

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