Takao Kawaguchi, reconsiders authorship and artistic freedom by recreating the movements of legendary Butoh dancer, Kazuo Ohno.

Takao Kawaguchi's performance, About Kazuo Ohno, caused a great deal of controversy when it premiered in Tokyo in 2013. Using video recordings of the premiere performances of butoh master Kazuo Ohnoʼs early masterpieces including Admiring La Argentina (1977), My Mother (1981), and Dead Sea, Ghost, Wienerwaltz (1985), Kawaguchi attempts to replicate Ohno's movements.

Ohnoʼs dance is often characterised as being largely improvisational and unique in his distinctive bodily features and movements, which were essential to his 'dance of soul.' In an attempt to copy his dance, Kawaguchi's inevitable divergences come to reveal the distinction between the original and the copy, which in turn reveal the unavoidable interpretive agency of the copier. The copy becomes original. In copying recordings that are themselves copies—or perhaps even copies of copies, Kawaguchi works in direct violation of Ohno's methodology, which stated that, "if there is the heart, the form will follow."

By marginalising his own subjectivity and embracing the copy, Kawaguchi rejects the traditional concept of 'kata' or 'ideal form' in Japanese traditional aesthetics, and works to fit his body into Ohno's form, "like pouring hot iron into the mold," and reconsidering the confines of authorship.

Concept and Performance: Takao Kawaguchi
Choreography: Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata
Dramaturgy, Video & Sound: Naoto Iina
Costumes : Noriko Kitamura
Lighting & Stage Director: Toshio Mizohata
Appearance in Video: Yoshito Ohno
Production Management: Toshio Mizohata

Archive materials courtesy of Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio, and CANTA Ltd.

Takao Kawaguchi: About Kazuo Ono is part of the Body Archives program at Dancehouse. 



Date: 25-26 February, 2017
Saturday 25 February, 8pm
Sunday 26 February, 6pm
Where: Sylvia Staehli Theatre, Dancehouse (wheelchair accessible)
Cost: $25 F | $20 C | $15 DH
Bookings: Click here

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Takao Kawaguchi was a member of the Japanese multimedia performance company Dumb Type from 1996 to 2008, during which time he worked independently with sound and visual artists to produce video works such as: DiQueNoVes (Say You Don't See) in 2003, D.D.D.- How Many Times Will My Heart Beat Before It Stops? (2004), Good Luck (2008) and TABLEMIND (2011).
Since 2008 Kawaguchi has been working on his solo, site-specific performance series called a perfect life until today. The most recent one, From Okinawa to Tokyo, was presented in February 2013 at the Ebisu Moving Image Festival at Tokyo Metropolitan Photography Museum.

In recent years he has created Butoh-related works such as: The Ailing Dance Mistress – based on the texts of Tatsumi Hijikata (2012), and About Kazuo Ohno – Reliving the Butoh Diva"s Masterpieces (2013 and 2016). Kawaguchi has also participated in a number of collaboration projects including: True (2007) and Node – The Old Man of the Desert (2013) with Takayuki Fujimoto (Dumb Type) and Tsuyoshi Shirai; and Tri-K (2010) with Dick Wong (Hong Kong) and Koichi Imaizumi.

Kawaguchi was the director of the Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival from 1996 to 1999; translated British experimental filmmaker Derek Jarman"s book Chroma into Japanese (2003); and starred in Edmund Yeo's short film Kingyo which was shown at the Venice Film Festival in 2009.

Image credit: Bozzo

The Asia TOPA Dancehouse program is supported by the Sidney Myer Fund and Arts Centre Melbourne through Creative Victoria for Asia TOPA.

Asia TOPA is a joint initiative of the Sidney Myer Fund and Arts Centre Melbourne and is supported by the Australian and Victorian Governments