Mind Blasting Awesomeness: Fantastic new review of Vangeline's Butoh Beethoven Eclipse

https://www.broadwayworld.com/off-off-broadway/article/BWW-Review-BUTOH-BEETHOVEN-ECLIPSE-Pierces-The-Nether-Realm-20171211

 

BWW Review: BUTOH BEETHOVEN: ECLIPSE Pierces The Nether Realm

by Juan Michael Porter II Dec. 11, 2017

Photo by Michael Blase

Photo by Michael Blase

Like an earthbound Hecate - a mythical witch and the third Greek godhead of the moon - Vangeline straddles conventional boundaries while blazing forward. Continuing her mission to pull butoh into the 21st Century, this mysterious master of minimal movement cast a spell over the packed house at Theater for The New City in her latest production Butoh Beethoven: Eclipse. The Eclipse aspect of this performance in particular kept audiences enthralled during the spooky pre-Halloween story.

Clad in a dress that bled light - created from designs by Tilen Sepic with fiber optic costuming from Lumigram - Vangeline slowly flashed across the stage as if she were embodying waning phases of the moon. Her nigh imperceptible gestures seemed to cleave between this dimension and some dark nether-realm.

 

Eclipse was created by Vangeline to honour Tatsumi Hijikata, the founder of Butoh. In that regard it felt as if she were drawing forth his spirit from another world. Her dress, with its threads of illumination, oozed a penumbra that rippled through the air in beat with her every breath. Moving with a deliberate, excruciatingly slow gait, Vangeline retrieved a circular ring of light that appeared to be suspended in the sky, and used it to frame her face. Facing forward with this ring obscuring our vision, Vangeline subtly shuddered and convulsed as if she were peering through a scrying pool at something of mind-blasting awesomeness. What did she see? Removing the moon totem to commune with us, her placid mien betraying little, Vangeline opened and closed her eyes with scrupulous elegance. Whatever burst forth through her slow-moving lashes was all she had to share with us concerning her journey to the other side. At that moment, once again, she was the blameless moon clothed in stars. A bewitching fixture affixed in the sky, drawing all eyes to her as if she were a portal to another world. Caught in her enchantment of suspended time, one failed to notice how swiftly the minutes were actually flying by. In a flash, all lights were extinguished, leaving us with swiftly fading memories of the lady in the moon as she passed on an eclipse to the other side.

Butoh, whether in abstract performance or enhanced by technology and uncommon narratives, is a niche field. It requires an appreciation for quieter moments and patience with stillness. The intensity that a performer of Vangeline's stature undergoes is incredible but not likely to appeal to a wider audience. Regardless, her solo performance commanded a packed to capacity 400 seat theatre.

This production originally performed on October 14th, 2017 at Theater For the New City.

Misogyny in the Dance World: Are We listening? By Vangeline

 

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Misogyny in the Dance World: Are We listening?

 

Berit Brogaard D.M.Sci, Ph.D, writes for Psychology Today that: “in most cases, misogynists do not even know that they hate women. Misogyny is typically an unconscious hatred that men form early in life”. Recently, women started coming out and speaking up against misogyny and sexual abuse, and what seems like a tidal wave of accusations against men in positions of power has swept across America. But as women know only too well, abuse does not have to be necessarily sexual in nature - abuse and misogyny can manifest in a number of ways. Men in power can resort to a variety of tactics to intimidate, belittle and ultimately - protect their position of power.

As a society, we have a tendency to worship at the altar of patriarchy. Men always come before women and tend to be trusted first, while women learn at an early age to internalize the patriarchy. As a result, even women can be dismissive of the word of other women when they come forward to share their stories.

Unfortunately, the dance world is still ripe with misogyny. A woman teacher, director or choreographer may face a number of problems in her field. Still today, women are held to an impossible double standard and subconsciously expected to “nurture” and not “lead” by both sexes. For example, a successful female choreographer or teacher may be labeled “aggressive”, while her male counterpart will be merely perceived as confident. This resistance to women in leadership roles makes it challenging to navigate the pitfalls of a career in the professional dance world.

Gender inequality is particularly obvious when it comes to the teacher/ student relationship in dance. When a woman becomes a teacher, her male students will not think twice about asking her out on a date, advising her on how to teach, or demanding to meet with her to “talk” before or after class. Men seem completely unaware that they would never treat a male teacher the same way. The male privilege is never more apparent than in this type of situation; some of these men may subconsciously compensate the blow inflicted on their narcissism by calling her “lovely“, “pretty”, or commenting on her looks.

On the other hand, when the role is reversed and women are rising through the ranks, they can face serious problems with male teachers. Female students can be traumatized or their self-esteem may be greatly impaired by unscrupulous teachers. These early experiences may greatly impact their ability to succeed later in life.

We still live in a culture where men’s needs come first and some male teachers seem to think that women students are merely there to fulfill their own needs. It is not uncommon for female students to be harassed by their teachers, having to ward off unwanted sexual advances. Someone I know was raped by her dance teacher when she was still in college. When the behavior was reported, the woman was blamed and no action was taken.

Women go through learning experiences with the expectation that this state of affairs cannot be helped and we learn to endure. This is because there are so few consequences to men’s misconduct and women have such limited options. Very recently, the outpouring of rage coming from women in Hollywood gave me pause and also prompted me to come forward with one of my stories as a woman making her way through the male-dominated dance world.

In the early 2000’s, I started to train in a form of dance, which originated in Japan. My first teacher in that discipline was a man from Mexico. He came highly recommended in an unconventional, avant-garde field called Butoh.

As my studies with this man furthered, I started noticing that some of the dynamics in his workshops made me uncomfortable. This man was regarded more as a “guru” than a dance teacher, yet would use methods that felt unsafe. We were sometimes pushed to the limit, and asked to take part in unconventional “exercises” such as flagellating each other with branches. The exercises were often punishing and violent. Ankles and arms were broken. I got a severe concussion during one exercise and blacked out. Instead of being taken to a doctor or a hospital, I was told immediately to dance after regaining consciousness.

This teacher was very convincing when he said that he had learned these techniques in Japan. If one wished to attain mastery in this art form, one needed to comply with his demands and “submit” to him. Any dissent was met with the ultimate pronouncement that our egos were in need of submission. Because this art form was so new to me, it never occurred to me that these exercises had little to do with the dance and perhaps satisfied his unconscious need to dominate. I had no reason to question this man, who was unanimously respected professionally.

On average, these workshops were comprised of 80% women. Very early on, I started to notice that this teacher tended to publicly humiliate the women in the workshop, never the men. Gradually, I started noticing the misogyny. Angry tirades and inappropriate personal comments were not uncommon. Women were called “angry wombs” and  “empty wombs”. Women were told to be supportive of male students while they were often yelled at and humiliated by this teacher.

Inappropriate, angry personal comments towards me reoccurred over the course of years. I was chastised for being “invisible”, while being told that I reminded him of his sister, and mother. Dating advice was yelled at me during group exercises; I was called “self indulgent” publicly for being in severe pain from menstrual cramps. My volunteer work, which, according to him, was only for my ego’s benefit, was belittled. Our ego was always a target, but the teacher’s ego was never in question.

We were asked to clean the teacher’s yard, even build shelves for him. Under the guise of receiving “private teaching”, I spent hundreds of hours working for free for this man, either building his student base or facilitating his work in the United States. I supported his green card application. Built his press kits. Left him my apartment on occasion. Counted his money. Recruited students. Yet never received any private teaching. I was told that money was not important, and that it was a great honor to support him.

The economic misogyny and paternalism continued when, after years of hosting him as a teacher and supporting his work in our community, he underhandedly over saturated our niche market by booking several workshops around the same time with different organizers, without any regard for the conflicts he created. When I reached out to him, he refused to discuss the situation and went unresponsive. Never question the guru.

With distance, I started to realize how toxic and exploitative this relationship was. Perhaps more surprising is how long it took me to stop working with this teacher. But is it really that surprising? As a woman, I had been conditioned to believe that men come first, and for my formative years, I completely lacked positive female role models to identify with. Unfortunately, for most women in the professional world, semi-abusive patterns are the norm.

When a well-known teacher, with all the power, tells his students that their discomfort is for their own good, how are we to know? The teacher is supposed to know best and guide us. More often than not, we end up second-guessing ourselves. Especially if no one around us sees anything wrong with the abuse. Therein lies the problem. Disrespect and abuse of women is so commonplace, so prevalent, that we are desensitized and do not see it anymore. Without an outside voice calling out impropriety, we do not dare to speak up, and/or accept the situation as status quo.

Additionally, abuse, for many students, is difficult to identify; since abusive people are not abusive all the time. A student may have a difficult time separating positive experiences from inappropriate ones, especially when it is reinforced over and over again to them that the teacher knows best.

After severing ties with him, I shared my experience with other workshop coordinators who are still bringing him to the US. My story of abuse was ignored for the most part. Worse, I was blamed for this “rift” with the teacher that “made everyone uncomfortable.”

This is hardly unusual. Cry “misogyny!” and watch the ripple effect. Women are more often than not blamed for the bullying and abuse they have to endure. Even by other women.

Commenting on the sexual abuse so rampant in the Buddhist community, Rob Preece, author of Our Teachers are Not God, explains this phenomenon. He describes the huge emotional investment we make in our teachers that comes with massive psychological projections. Once we idealize a teacher and place them on a pedestal, it is difficult for anyone to dislodge them. We are invested, attached; any crack on the surface and an entire body of meaningful experiences might come tumbling down. As a result, allegations of misconduct are collectively pushed under the rug as they threaten to tear at the very fabric of our emotional investments.

As could be expected, people have gone to great lengths to defend this male teacher to me. One organizer said to me: “ If this is true, it is unacceptable”. “If” is the equivalent of  “see no evil, hear no evil”. In such cases, the word if is brandished like a magic wand to prolong the illusion of propriety in the face of impropriety. Unfortunately, the word if also means that the victim is neither believed, nor heard.

Today, we need to acknowledge that the dance world has its fair share of “gurus” or untouchable men who often cross ethical lines. Stephen Batchelor, author of Why I Quit Guru Yoga, asks the very relevant question:

“Does elevating the guru to the same status as the teachings themselves set the stage for teacher-student abuse?” It just might.

Rob Preece adds:

While there are some extraordinary teachers with great integrity, they are seldom if ever flawless. I am sometimes shocked when I hear students describe the critical, bullying way in which they are treated as a necessary part of the destruction of the ego. So often this reflects the narcissism of the teacher. The status of certain teachers can cause them to become self-centered or narcissistic”.

But it is our blind deference, which contributes to their status, hence their narcissism. Without room for criticism and any oversight, we end up creating monsters instead of teachers.

Learning from this experience, I have developed a system of checks and balances for my own work. My classes are audited; my work with the community is evaluated twice a year by separate organizations. I consult with my peers, and seek professional feedback to ensure that I work within ethical boundaries. The safety of students is a constant priority for me.

In the end, while I can be grateful for all the things I learned from this teacher, his behavior was abusive, plain and simple. Today I am grateful to be able to see it, and say it.

Coming to such conclusions is often painful. When the story about Charlie Rose’s misconduct came out, his co-host, while acknowledging that she was “reeling” from the realization that someone she so greatly admired was capable of such horrible acts, still made this statement for the New York Times:

“This I know is true,” she continued. “Women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or in society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility. This has to end. This behavior is wrong, period.”

No matter how great the contribution or outstanding the achievement, there is no excuse for disrespecting women and misusing one’s power. Female students have a right to study any art form without being used, belittled and disrespected.

Equally important is the fact that women have the right to be heard, and should aspire to achieve as much as men. Unfortunately, men’s great achievements often come at great costs to women. If men in positions of power put down women, it is to ensure that the same women will lack the confidence to compete with them later.

In the end, this is an ethical issue masking a grim economic reality. More often than not, men will consciously or unconsciously misuse their power to protect their status and livelihood. A male teacher who insults, manipulates his female students to exact free labor from them, and shoves them to the side to further his own needs, is not worthy of his position.

Exploitation of women is not a rare occurrence in the dance world unfortunately. In her article for Dance Magazine: Can we please acknowledge ballet’s sexism problem already? Courtney Escoyne points out the fact that men dominate the dance world and that, more often than not, they have built their work on the shoulders of their lesser-paid female counterparts. Three male choreographers dominate ballet today; yet they use almost only female dancers, who are paid a fraction of the men’s salaries.

Abuse of women, whether sexual in nature or not, is always about power, and power held by men represents economic opportunities denied to women. Misogynists are not aware that they hate women. But many of us, women included, need to confront our own tendency to turn a blind eye to abusive behavior. In our dance communities, we had better learn to cultivate appropriate boundaries and set guidelines that protect women who are constantly the victims of misogyny and abusive power dynamics. We need to confront this power imbalance and help women get out of this supporting role.

In conclusion, it may be important to point out that dancers may be very vulnerable to abuse. From an early age, we are taught to follow discipline and to respect and obey our teachers. It is not uncommon for dancers to push through extreme physical pain while training. Lacking perspective and support, female students are even more vulnerable than their male student counterparts.

This is why male teachers should be under scrutiny while working with female students. Ongoing psychological and ethical evaluations should be normal requirements for male dance teachers aspiring to find work. As long as we trust men blindly to self-examine and be beyond reproach, we leave the door wide open to an endemic and self-perpetuating abuse of women.

While pushing and motivating students is a normal part of teaching dance, physical violence, verbal abuse and economic exploitation are not acceptable. But they certainly all go hand in hand with misogyny and the patriarchy.

So what can we do about it?

First, if we really want things to change, we have to give women a voice. More importantly, we must be willing to hear women and give them a platform to be heard. Tell your story today. Or better yet, when a woman comes forward with her story, learn to listen.

 

#seeitsayit  #metoo

 

Paternalism: the policy or practice on the part of people in positions of authority of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates' supposed best interest. (Merriam – Webster)

Economic Exploitation: a relationship in the distribution of economic wealth wherein a worker does not receive the proper amount of income or entitlement. (Oxford)

Abuse: treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly. (Merriam – Webster)

Misogyny: is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. (Merriam – Webster)

 

Bibliography/ Relevant Articles

Batchelor, Stephen. Why I Quit Guru Yoga. Tricycle. https://tricycle.org/magazine/quit-guru-yoga/

Brogaard, Berit. 12 Ways to Spot a Misogynist. Psychology Today. Feb 18, 2015. Web. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mysteries-love/201502/12-ways-spot-misogynist

Escoyne, Courtney. Can we please acknowledge ballet’s sexism problem already? April 24, 2017. Dance Magazine. http://www.dancemagazine.com/can-we-all-please-acknowledge-ballets-sexism-problem-already-2376775181.html

Preece, Robert. Our teachers are not our Gods. July, 20, 2017. Lion’s Roar. Web. https://www.lionsroar.com/teachers-not-gods/

Koblin, John and Grynbaum, Michael. Charlie Rose Fired by CBS and PBS After Harassment Allegations. Nov 21, 2017. New York Times.

 

 

 

 

 

Good Bye Butoh Master Yukio Waguri

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The Butoh community worldwide mourns the passing of Butoh Master Yukio Waguri, who died yesterday in Tokyo, Japan.

A disciple of Tatsumi Hijikata, Waguri was passionate in preserving Founder of Butoh Tatsumi Hijikata' Butoh Fu (Butoh Notations).

Through his effort together with the Tatsumi Hijikata Archives, the publication of of the CD-ROM of Butoh Kaden in 1998, provided an opportunity to examine Hijikata’s method.

 

He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and students.

Good bye and thank you Yukio Waguri!

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Main Performances
1972 Tatsumi Hijikata Performance, 27 Nights for Four Seasons, Shinjuku Theater
1973 Tatsumi Hijikata Performance, A Silent House, Seibu Theater
1974-1978 Hakutobo Consecutive Performance, Asbestos Hall,
1978 Kozensha Performance; Wings of Castle, Three hundred Theater
1990 Human Water, Atelier Fountain
1991 The Blue Pillar, Studio 200
1993 The Story of sun and moon, Seed Hall
1994 Wedding on the Field, Theater X
1995 Sinking Waterfall, P3 ART ENVIRONMENT
1996 Butoh Kaden, Theater X
1997 Ellora, The Dream of the Stone , Park Tower Hall
1998 Release of the Butoh Kaden in CD-Rom, Kinokuniya Hall
1998 Indonesia Art Summit; The Topography of the Fantasy”, TIM
1999-2001 Part-time Lecturer in Waseda University
1999 Public Performance in Lithuania, Australia & Korea
Human Water, Shonandai Cultural Center
2000 Vancouver Dance Festival, Seattle Dance Festival
The Bone of the Ground, Montreal, Agora Theater

2001 Tour to Korea & Indonesia by (Japan Foundation)

2002 Release of the entrust work by RDC in Vancouver
The Topography of the Fantasy, Olibe Hall

2003 Atarashiki Tomoe Keio University Orientation day, Hiyoshi Raiosha
Public Performance in Vancouver, Louis Riel
Dance Festival in Brazil, Wedding on The Field, SESC
NY Dance Festival, Journey of Spirit
An invitation lecturer in Drama Department, Graduate School, Yale University

2004 Journey of Spirit , Keio University Orientation day, Hiyoshi Raiosha
Participated in Yogyakarta Art Festival
Give lessons in The Catholic University of Sao Paulo

2005The Way of Illusion, Keio University Orientation day, Hiyoshi Raiosha
Participated in Asia Tori in Seoul
Participated in Yogyakarta Art Festival
Give lessons in University of Utah
“Dancing Poetic Drama”; The Woman & Shadow, guest performer,
 Okuma Lecture Hall,  Waseda University

2006Participated in CAN.ASIAN.DANCE.FESTIVAL IN TORONTO

2007Commemorative Performance for Establishment of Kazuo Ono Archive,
 Journey of Spirit, Bologna University
Russia Dance Festival,  Journey of Spirit ,  Sankt Peterburg,  Moscow

2008Participated in Kazuo Ono Festival, Centennial Anniversary plan for Japan-Brazil immigration
 Yamanba,  a co-product of Tokiwazu, Japanese traditionalDance
Guest performer, H. Art Chaos’s work Dante, La Divina Commedia
Participated in Japan-Indonesia 50th Anniversary Diplomatic Relation Project

2009Nyoba Kan International Buto Festival,  Kuala Lumpur
Kazuo Ono Festival in Yokohama KINJIKI

2010Contest with Yoshito Ono in [Radioactive Dust] Eiko Hosoe Photograph Exhibition, Jissoji Shoin
Nyoba Kan International Buto Festival,  Kuala Lumpur
NY-CAVE Dance Workshop Collaboration
KohzenshaDance Performance,  Labyrinth of body,  Nippori SanyHall

2011 MarchPublic Dance Performance in China,  Journey of Spirit
performed in The Nine Theater in Beijing, organized by Japan Foundation
Public Dance PerformanceTransformation,  Bali
The tour in USA [Chicago,Soltlakecity,NYC. Boulder]
Water Moon in Malaysia ,Bangkok

2012.  Performance [Journey of Spirit] CHILE Butoh FestivalSantiago,
        Butoh workshopat HongKong, Y space. Macau, Kualarumpur.
        Performance [Sick Princess] Kazuo Ohno Festival At Yokohama.
        Performance [Journey of Spirit] Barcelona Butoh Festival

2013. Performance [Francis Bacon] National Museum of Modern Art of Tokyo Toyota shi Museum Performance [Ryu Chai Chi I] Kuaralumpur. HongKong.
          Taiwan [gaoshun/Taipei]  Macau fringe festival.

2014. Lecture and performanceNational Institute od dramatic art[Sydney]  Workshop and performance SESC Paurista [Sao Paulo]
        Workshop[Hong Kong/Y-space]  Performance {Shiya}  [Kualalumpur]
 

 

http://www.otsukimi.net/koz/e_bk_seven.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Butoh Institute on Research Trip in Japan

The New York Butoh Institute is on a research trip in Japan. Vangeline is conducting interviews for her upcoming book on Butoh, to be published in 2018.

Interview today in Tokyo by Vangeline for Vangeline Theater / New York Butoh Institute with Legendary photographer Eikoh Hosoe, a contemporary of Hijikata Tatsumi and Writer Mishima. August 11, 2017. Photo Azumi Oe.

Interview today in Tokyo by Vangeline for Vangeline Theater / New York Butoh Institute with Legendary photographer Eikoh Hosoe, a contemporary of Hijikata Tatsumi and Writer Mishima. August 11, 2017.

Photo Azumi Oe.

Interview with Eikoh Hosoe /Vangeline - Photo Azumi Oe. August 11, 2017.

Interview with Eikoh Hosoe /Vangeline - Photo Azumi Oe. August 11, 2017.

Vangeline and Mr. Morishita, Director of Tatsumi Hijiakata Archives, August 10, 2017- Photo Azumi Oe.

Vangeline and Mr. Morishita, Director of Tatsumi Hijiakata Archives, August 10, 2017- Photo Azumi Oe.

Mr. Morishita, Vangeline, Azumi Oe and Shoshana Green at the Tastumi Hijikata Archives, August 10th, 2017.Photo Azumi Oe.

Mr. Morishita, Vangeline, Azumi Oe and Shoshana Green at the Tastumi Hijikata Archives, August 10th, 2017.Photo Azumi Oe.

Interview with Yoshito Ohno, August 13, 217 with Vangeline in Yokohama - Photo Azumi Oe

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Vangeline on Elemental Podcast - Extra: Effort

Art matters. But why? A podcast series investigating the elements needed for artistic expression in an urgent political climate. We talk. And listen. The prequel to Season 1 premieres December 4, 2016. Season 1 proper premieres January 22, 2017.

Vangeline, Artistic Director of Vangeline Theater and founder of the New York Butoh Institute discusses the importance of balance, impact, and effort. Her recent piece Wake Up and Smell the Coffee used upwards of 1000 used coffee cups collected around New York City to address the waste we generate and our loss of effort in the need to address the issue.

EXTRA: EFFORT by ELEMENTAL is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


LISTEN TO VANGELINE ON ELEMENTAL PODCAST ON : https://www.elementalcast.com/

Photo Benjamin Heller _ Vangeline Theater - Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Photo Benjamin Heller _ Vangeline Theater - Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Interview with Paul Barlett (CUNY) about Wake Up and Smell the Coffee on WBAI

Listen to Environmental Scientist and activist Paul Barlett (CUNY) speak about Art and Activism, our upcoming show Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, Vangeline Theater, the Living Theater, and learn how butoh and coffee trash connect.

This interview was conducted by Earth Mum on her show:

Morning Eclectic

Sat, Apr 15, 2017   6:00 AM

http://wbai.org/upcomingprogram.php?upcomingid=2751

Vangeline Theater launches eco friendly campaign #myclimateaction

Americans love coffee. But our love affair with coffee comes at a cost. Most people think these disposable coffee cups are recyclable. They're wrong.Would it surprise you that it actually has lots of plastic actually in the lining of the cup? Coffee cups don't biodegrade, and they're piling up in landfill where they become a major pollution hazard.  A lot of plastic ends up in our water sources.

50 billion paper cups end in U.S. landfills every year because they can't be recycled.


This is a WAKE UP CALL FOR COFFEE LOVERS. So at Vangeline Theater, we are starting a campaign and show called Wake Up and Smell The Coffee.
We went around New York and collected 1000 used cups from the garbage. And we will dance in a set made of these cups April 20-22nd at Triskelion Arts.
Join us and WAKE UP - BUY A REUSABLE MUG TODAY.

And come see our show next April!
http://www.vangeline.com/calendar-of-upcoming-events/2017/4/20/wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee-2017-vangeline-theater