Natsu Nakajima Performance Like Smoke, Like Ash
May 30th 7.30pm
The Edric Theatre,
London South Bank University,
103, Borough Road, London SE1 0AA
This is an extremely rare opportunity to see the celebrated Natsu Nakajima, in her first return visit to the UK in thirty years. Natsu is first generation Butoh, having performed for and trained with Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, before establishing her own international reputation as a solo artist. The solo is 45-50 minutes and then Natsu will also do a screening: a kind of film montage tracing her work since Niwa 30 years ago (with footage of her own work, and her two masters Ohno & Hijikata, as well as some images of the late producer and writer Lizzie Slater who was a seminal organiser of Butoh in the UK in the 1980's). Natsu will also offer a post show Question and Answer Session.
Natsu Nakajima (b. 1943 Sakhalin) has been one of the most prominent figures in butoh dance since its foundation in Tokyo in the 1960s, and one of its foremost pioneers abroad. Training under both Hijikata Tatsumi and Kazuo Ohno, Nakajima went on to establish her own dance company, Muteki-sha, in 1969, with whom she has been performing and choreographing internationally since the early 1980s. Her highly acclaimed performance of ‘Niwa’ at LIFT ‘83 (London) marked the beginning of this international touring career, and led to performances at festivals such as FIND (Montreal), the Nancy Festival, and the Sydney Biennale. In addition to her performance and choreographic work, Nakajima has over thirty years of experience as a teacher, and has been one of the forerunners of dance for the disabled in Japan.
Nakajima’s performance of Niwa (The Garden) at London International Festival of Theatre ’83 marked the beginning of her international career as a butoh dancer and choreographer. Having trained under both founders of butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, in the 1960s, and established her own company Muteki-sha in 1969, this performance in London was the first time her work had been shown outside Japan. It marked an important moment not only in Nakajima’s career, but also in the history of butoh, and in the international recognition of contemporary Japanese art more widely. Since then, Nakajima has choreographed and performed worldwide, at international festivals across Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and in such venues as La Mama (New York), and Sydney Opera House. Nakajima’s performances have been highly acclaimed by reviewers in the New York Times and the L.A. Times among others, and she has received prizes from APAP in New York and the Canada Dance Festival, as well as an Asian Cultural Council Fellowship, for her work. Since that first visit, over thirty years ago, Nakajima has returned to London to perform at such reputable venues as The Place and ICA.