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QUEER BUTOH - Transcending the Identity of Sex

Davey Mitchell- Photo by Michael Blase

Davey Mitchell- Photo by Michael Blase

HOWl! Happening in association with The New York Butoh Institute and Vangeline Theater presents:

QUEER BUTOH:  Transcending the Identity of Sex

An evening of Butoh performances and community discussion with five LGBTQ Butoh artists.

At Howl! Happening

6 E 1st St

New York, NY

(917) 475-1294

Free Admission

November 9 and 10, 2016 at 7pm (Wednesday through Thursday)

This program is supported in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Malin Andreasson

Malin Andreasson

Performances by Malin Andreasson, Will Atkins, Mandy Caughey, Shawn Escarciga, and Davey Mitchell.

Panel Discussion with the artists following the performances moderated by Vangeline, Founder of New York  Butoh Institute and Artistic Director of Vangeline Theater and Brian Butterick, actor, singer, Downtown legend. Additional panelists: Ranardo-Domeico Grays, Artistic Director of VISIONS Contemporary Ballet, and CUNY actor/dancer Rafael Liriano.

Howl! Happening in association with The New York Butoh Institute and Vangeline Theater is pleased to present an evening of Butoh performances and community discussion with five LGBTQ Butoh artists. The two evenings feature performances followed by a panel discussion. The artists will talk about how Butoh has been instrumental in articulating or facing the unique challenges they face as LGBT artists.

 Butoh is essentially the dance of the marginalized, and the LGBTQ population is still largely marginalized in the world,” says Vangeline France, curator of this series. “Most of these artists feel that they found a place of freedom and acceptance through Butoh and it was important to give them a voice to express this.”

In Butoh, the desire to play with notions of both "masculine" and "feminine" has been expressed in performance methodology by both male and female artists. The five contemporary artists will create new work and speak about how they integrate Butoh into their art and lives.

 At its origin, the introduction of Butoh in Japan was widely controversial. The first Butoh performance, Kinjiki (Forbidden Colors) created by Tatsumi Hijikata in 1958, caused deep repulsion amongst its spectators. Inspired by the work of homosexual author Jean Genet, Kinjiki took its name and inspiration from Yukio Mishima's book Forbidden Color and dealt with homosexuality, a profoundly taboo subject at the time.

A few words from the artists featured:

"Butoh is a form and a discipline that allows me to express my “otherness” safely without label, without gender, without restriction of time and place. It has been a validating process for me that is ongoing—I am allowed to be what I am and continue to unfold into more of myself without fear of persecution, rejection or violence.  It has provided a foundation for me to simply be so that I can move forward. My gender and my sexuality do not affect how I am perceived in the work as much as they have in other forms/disciplines, and Butoh has offered me a particular kind of freedom of expression that I think is incredibly necessary for queer artists." Shawn Escarciga

Shawn Escarciga - photo by Anna Henson

Shawn Escarciga - photo by Anna Henson


“I feel that there are parts in me which are damaged because the constant daily impression of how a woman should be like, look like, act like, live like and the message is constantly to compete with other women to be the most attractive one for a general mans satisfaction.  I find that Butoh is helping me as a femme queer artist feel that I am allowed to merge in which ever sex or sexuality I want. I find it difficult to face the norm with time and the message to females that they are changeable described by their age. I want to be allowed to expand myself living fully being allowed to grow old in a society where the image of youth is highly highlighted. “Malin Andreasson

Malin Andreasson - photo by Sonya Singh

Malin Andreasson - photo by Sonya Singh


“While I feel like other performance genres allow me to explore certain facets at certain times, Butoh allows me to access a space within myself that is everything and nothing. This includes aspect I sometimes feel closed off to, including my sexuality; a part of myself I sometimes find myself at odds with. When I was younger, like many other gay youths, I was bullied, and internalized a lot of phobia around the issue and with myself. Growing up with skewed ideas about myself, this part of myself became apart of my "shadow." Butoh helps me face this side of my being, and through my training I have been able to tap into and develop a more healthy, artistic expression, supporting who I am truly as an artist and as a person.” Will Atkins

Will Atkins

Will Atkins


“Despite my absolute attraction to women, I often struggle with feeling like I fully fit in with the LGBTQ identity.  There's a certain pride and solidity in how many gay people talk about their sexuality that I never felt.  I've often questioned whether or not I really AM gay, since I don't seem to fit these attributes I see in others, yet at the same time, I know without a doubt I am not straight.  I feel like I don't fit in with the queer community, but I also don't seem to fit in anywhere else.  In dancing Butoh, I fit in.  I feel completely secure and absolute in my sense of self and sexuality.  All my questions cease as my body answers.  Many times, it is extremely hard for me to express how I feel for another woman.  Butoh offers me a space to express anything and everything I yearn to say, without any repercussions or judgment.  It is a world of complete freedom, and fulfillment.  I am complete when I dance Butoh.” 

Mee Ae Caughey

Mee Ae - Photo by Jari Poulain

Mee Ae - Photo by Jari Poulain

"There is no place like HOME", is the phrase which comes to mind when I think of Butoh.  "Home" in the sense of finding one's self -  a completeness of being; and within that being is your journey - your life experiences - struggles and accomplishments, happiness and sorrow.  As a mature dancer, Butoh has graciously accepted me with all the baggage that I carry from my journey, and has allowed me to spill my guts of grief to orgasmic glories. It has taught me the power of stillness and given me a voice of balance where my masculine and feminine energies can speak my truth!”

Davey Mitchell


Davey Mitchell

Davey Mitchell

Wednesday November 9

Will Atkins - Mandy Caughey - Davey Mitchell - Shawn Escarciga - Malin Andreasson

Thursday November 10

Will Atkins- Mandy Caughey - Davey Mitchell- Malin Andreasson


Davey Mitchell - an expressionist of the arts in New York City for over 30 years, began his dance training at the Alvin Ailey Dance School in the 1980s. Through the span of his dance career with various dance companies, highlights include performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Duke Theater, PS. 122, The Riverside Church and Adelphi University to name a few.  Now as a solo performer, he continues to showcase his work as guest artist in collaboration with choreographers and special events.  For more info:


Malin Andreasson grew up on Öland in the south of Sweden. Acknowledging her passion and spirit as a dancer, she moved to Stockholm to start her professional studies at the Ballet Academy. Her training include ballet, modern, jazz and diverse hiphop styles.  She studied her professional dance training at the Ballet Academy of Stockholm and at the Ballet /Contemporary track Peridance NYC, where she performed multiple solos and group works by national and international choreographers. She has worked with international and national contemporary choreographers in solo and group works and in the "The Rite of Spring" by Enzo Celli (VIVO Ballet). After graduation, Malin was hired to perform at the Metropolitan Opera and is now currently a company member of Vangeline Theater and Nadine Bommer dance ANİMATO.


Mandy Caughey (Mee Ae), is a Butoh artist from Ithaca New York. She graduated from Bard College in 2000 with a BA in Drama/Dance.  She began intensive Butoh training under Vangeline in 2004, and was a principal dancer with Vangeline Theater for 6 years. In 2009, Mandy relocated to Ithaca, NY, bringing the art of Butoh with her.Since then, she has founded Butoh Ithaca with dancer/teacher Amanda Moretti, andhas received several grants from Community Arts Partnership.  She has performed at Cornell University, Herbert F. Johnson Art Museum, Ithaca's first Fringe Festival, and a host of other local festivals, and venues.  She has also enjoyed collaborating with a wide variety of accomplished painters, musicians, photographers, and other dancers.


Will Atkins is an NYC based performer and graduate of Hofstra University’s Drama Performance program. Will was awarded high honors for his senior thesis paper exploring the paradoxical and transformative elements in Butoh. Since graduating Will has performed in Katsura Kan’s “Senryu x Butoh” show, Ideal Glass’s “Vestiphobia” event, and created solo Butoh pieces for WalkUpArts fundraisers.


Shawn Escarciga is a queer Butoh and performance artist based in Brooklyn. His solo work and choreography has been presented throughout New York City (Panoply, MIX NYC, Glasshouse, etc.), Chicago and abroad. He trains regularly and has performed with the Vangeline Theater as well as studying with visiting Butoh artists through the New York Butoh Institute.


The Vangeline Theater has been a leader in the development of contemporary Butoh dance since its founding in 2002. Informed by the expansive vision of pioneering choreographer Vangeline, the Vangeline Theater brings to life a timeless and uniquely American style of Butoh that continues to captivate audiences. The Vangeline Theater is home to the New York Butoh Institute, providing superior Butoh training to our community. The New York Butoh Institute is dedicated to the advancement of Butoh in the 21st century, with a special emphasis on scientific research as it relates to Butoh.

Howl! Happening

Gallery | Performance Space | Archive

Like the neighborhood in which it was born and the Howl! Festival that began it all, Howl! Happening is a space of untamed creativity. Howl! Happening curates exhibitions and stages live events that showcase the historical legacy and contemporary culture of the East Village and Lower East Side. It  is  also dedicated to preserving the archives of artists who spent their creative lives working in this vibrant community and houses the Estates of artist Arturo Vega and  the  beloved  performance  artist,  Tom Murrin aka “The Alien Comic.” The history of the East Village is still being written. The mix of rock and roll, social justice, art and performance, community activism, gay rights and culture,  immigrants, fashion, and nightlife are even more relevant now and Howl! Happening aims to shine a light on artists from the past in the place where their art came alive and where they played and worked.  Howl! Happening is an Arturo Vega Project. Visit



Brian Butterick

Brian Butterick

New York born Brian Butterick (AKA Hattie Hathaway) has been a performer, actor, writer, producer and personality working in Downtown art, theatre, film and nightlife for over forty years. He currently sits on the Executive Board of the HOWL! Festival, the annual celebration of art, music, dance, theatre and spoken word centered around New York's East Village/Lower East Side. Recently (2007-08), he co-curated the East Village cafe, bookstore and performance space, Rapture Cafe and Books. He appeared in Steven Schainberg's Fur, starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. and made his Broadway debut in The Roundabout Theatre's production The Threepenny Opera, newly translated by Wallace Shawn, directed by Scott Elliot and starring Alan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper.

In the 1990's, Butterick co-produced the famed New York Meat Market Tuesday-night-only boite, Jackie 60, and still co-produces Night Of a Thousand Stevies, the world-famous annual tribute to Stevie Nicks, now in its 20th year, From 1991-95, he produced, directed and acted in the underground theatrical ensemble, BlackLips, which created performance installations in venues as diverse as a SoHo gallery, Pridefest, a run down Chelsea theatre, and Barney's New York.

In the 1980's,. Butterick co-founded The Pyramid Club, a venue that melded the performing arts with music and drag and gave rise to such performers as The "Lady" Bunny, RuPaul, the chart-topping dance act Dee-lite, and produced the first area appearances of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwar, Psychic TV, and Nirvana. From 1985-89, he co-founded and produced Wigstock, Tompkins Square Park's outdoor festival of drag performance, which was later immortalized in the Goldwyn film of the same name. During this time, Butterick also appeared in numerous independent films, most notably Charles Atlas' Son Of Sam & Delilah, for PBS, as well as composing and performing with the post-punk band, 3 Teens Kill 4.

Hattie has also performed, written and produced a variety of theatrical pieces for many Off-off Broadway venues such as La Mama ETC and PS 122, as well as appearing in works by Penny Arcade, John Kelly, Richard Move, Helen Stratford, Kestutis Nakas, and the late Ethyl Eichelberger. In addition to theatrical pieces, Butterick has also written for TimeOut NY, Verbal Abuse Magazine, Fag Rag, and Mouth Of the Dragon. He is currently at work on several literary projects: a memoir of his life with the late artist David Wojnarowicz, and, with co-author Kestutis Nakas, a history of the 1980's seminal nightclub, The Pyramid. In 2015, he curated a month long show at the Howl! Happening Gallery entitled “Secrets Of the Great Pyramid,” a retrospective of art and performance featured there in the 1980’s.



Photo by Andrew Williams

Photo by Andrew Williams

Ranardo-Domeico Grays Founder/Artistic Director of VISIONS Contemporary Ballet, native of Detroit, is an alumnus of The Juilliard School, California Institute of the Arts (BFA), the Alvin Ailey School and Interlochen Arts Academy. VISIONS has been presented by Dixon Place in ‪‪Moving Men and Under Exposed; Wassaic Festival; Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center in Souls of Our Feet and PEEKS; Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance in Boogie Down Bronx, Out Like That and BlakTino; GreenSpace in Fertile Ground; American Cancer Society and The Field/LMCC/Harlem Arts Alliance. Ranardo has performed with Sensedance, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Urban Wash Dance Company, La Toya Jackson Tour, Garth Fagan, Zack Morris, Celebrity Cruises, and has performed throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe.   He taught Master Class workshops in contemporary ballet at Marygrove College; Chicago, Sweet Charity and A Chorus Line workshops at New York Sports Clubs; Urban Fusion at Equinox and Ripley Grier Studios; and Afro-Latin-Funk at American Express' NY Corporate headquarters. As Dance Director of Morris High School, he staged/choreographed Bye Bye Birdie, West Side Story and Little Shop of Horrors. He also was assistant choreographer in the Off Broadway musical, Hitgirls, and was choreographer/co-host of VH-1’s Rock of Ages. He is a member of SAG/AFTRA, AEA, and has acted in film (State Property 2 and Slow Jam King, Shortcut to Happiness) and television (Law & Order, Gossip Girl, Canterbury’s Law and The Nanny).  Ranardo is a brain cancer survivor!



Rafael Liriano is an actor and multimedia performing artist born and raised in New York City. He has performed off-off-broadway and with Theatre of the Oppressed NYC where he got the chance to bring light and awareness to current social justice issues through engaging audiences in real life present-day scenarios. Rafael has also performed in TV and film. At the age of 15, he made his TV debut on the Daytime Emmy nominated show Endurance and was most recently seen in Learning to Drive, starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley. Having a passion for storytelling and making characters come to life, Rafael believes that through this medium there is great healing power in being seen and heard. Currently pursuing his BFA in multimedia performing arts at Lehman College, he studied Butoh there under Vangeline, and continues to discover and explore the art form.



Ajaykumar, Goldsmiths College, University of London, England.

Gender Forum: Butoh and Transcending the Identity of Sex.