Vangeline receives a NYFA/ NYSCA Artist Fellowship in Choreography

Vangeline was awarded an Artist Fellowship in Choreography from New York Foundation for the Arts/ New York Council on the Arts today.

This award was extremely competitive: Vangeline was selected out of 2532 applicants by a panel of judges who specialize in the field of dance.

For the first time in this award's history, a female Western butoh choreographer is being recognized. This is a landmark and gives us hope that butoh will continue to be recognized as the diverse, sophisticated and complex art form that it is.

This award also recognized Vangeline’s choreographed work ELSEWHERE.

Thank you New York Foundation for the Arts/ New York Council on the Arts; and many thanks to Nicole Vivien Watson/Surface Area Dance Theatre in the U.K, who was instrumental in supporting the creative development of the work submitted.

Vangeline in Butoh Beethoven. Photo by 曹博凱 at Taiwan Darkness Festival

Vangeline in Butoh Beethoven. Photo by 曹博凱 at Taiwan Darkness Festival

The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Program makes unrestricted cash grants of $7,000 to artists working in 15 disciplines, awarding five per year on a triennial basis. The program is highly competitive, and this year’s recipients and finalists were selected by discipline-specific peer panels from an applicant pool of 2,542.


Vangeline Theater recipient of Janet Arnold Award - Tatsumi Hijikata 1968 Revolt of the Flesh Costume

Vangeline Theater recipient of Janet Arnold Award - Tatsumi Hijikata 1968 Revolt of the Flesh Costume

In 1968 came a turning point in Butoh’s history with a dance solo called Tatsumi and The Japanese - Revolt of the Flesh, performed by the founder of Butoh Tatsumi Hijikata in Tokyo. For the legendary performance, Tatsumi Hijikata wore a spectacular red costume, which was presumably made by hand by his wife, Akiko Motofuji. The long, ruffled costume was inspired by flamenco dance. Since 1968, it has captured the imagination of hundreds of Butoh enthusiasts worldwide. Today, the legendary costume lives inside a box at the Tatsumi Hijikata Archives at Keio University, Japan. Yet, we know little on how the dress was made.

This year, thanks to the Janet Arnold Award of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a loan from the Tatsumi Hijikata Archives, Vangeline Theater/ New York Butoh Institute will research how the costume was designed by recreating it. The costume will be professionally photographed, cataloged and we will document the making of the new costume for archiving purposes.

Tatsumi Hijkata’s original 1968 costume will be on display at Theater for the New City during the New York Butoh Institute Festival, October 16-23, 2019. Vangeline will wear the costume replica during her premiere performance of “Hijikata Mon Amour” at the Festival. Our findings will be made available through The New York Butoh Institute online archives, as well as the Tatsumi Hijikata’s archives at Keio University in Japan. Our costume expert Todd Thomas will give a lecture discussing the recreation process, shedding light on how the original costume was designed and constructed. During the Festival, the lecture will be filmed and available online through our joint archives.

Hijikata’s legendary costume is a totem of sorts; it holds secrets of the avant-garde art form. Much like Butoh itself, it was born at the confluence of East and West. This costume chronicles the evolution of postmodern art in Japan, and as such, deserves to be carefully studied, and thrown into the limelight once again.

Costumes are an essential part of the magic of performances. This costume has become part of the legacy of Butoh and is a historical treasure. As such, Vangeline Theater/ New York Butoh Institute will give it its rightful place in history by documenting it for future generations.

Since its inception, Vangeline Theater has held a special relationship to costume conservation. Our performances often feature antique costumes, reproductions of period costumes or costume inspired by historical designs. Our prized costume collection is renowned and was featured in Vanity Fair Italia in 2012. As collectors of costumes, we understand that costuming is an intricate part of storytelling, and, for each one of our productions, we thoroughly research the history behind each garment.

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 2.29.12 PM.png


More info about the Hijikata Tastumi Archives at Keio University:

Stay tuned for more information on New York Butoh Institute Festival 2019.

Vangeline interviewed by Tiger Magazine


Vangeline talks about Butoh’s history, butoh and feminism, common misconceptions about Butoh, and her upcoming show ɪˈreɪʒə (the phonetic pronunciation of Erasure), May 15-19, 2019 at the beautiful, spacious and historic Theater for the New City in the East Village.



Review of Vangeline's Butoh beethoven Eclipse by the Ballet Review (Karen Greenspan)

Summer 2018 - Page 34-36

By Karen Greenspan

Out of pitch darkness, a luminous filigree dress appears before a large disc lying flat on the floor. The perimeter of the disc is lit up like the corona of a completely eclipsed sun. This celestial body is the creation of European designer Tilen Sepič. The dress, aglow with cool light, is a fiber optic textile design by French company LumiGram.

The dancer who inhabits this ethereal marvel is Vangeline, a French-born Butoh performer, who dances in the tradition of this Japanese post-World WarTwo, expressionistic dance form, but who carries the vision into aesthetic possibilities of the twenty-first century.
In an intimate space at Theater for the New City in Manhattan’s East Village, Vangeline Theater presented a program of two solos called Butoh Beethoven: Eclipse.

In the first piece, Eclipse, Vangeline bewitched the audience as she moved with immense, concentrated slowness in an elemental relationship with the sun disc – that of wonder. Her face and skin were cancelled out in the absence of light through the entire piece, so all that was visible was a slow-moving dress. Her drawn out and painstaking movements to crouch to the floor, lift the disc, stand up, revolve around to place the eclipsed orb against the backdrop, and continue her revolution to face the audience again were hypnotic.

It felt like attentively watching the movement of the earth’s twenty-four-hour rotation on its axis. Sounds of flowing water and contrasting abrasive traffic noise washed over the intent performer. Suddenly the sun disc goes completely dark, and the incandescent dress moves downstage in fits and starts. The arms are moving, but all we see are the lit, bell-shaped sleeves slowly
rising and descending. And then the dress goes dark with the click of a remote – one section at a time – and the luminous vision is no more.

As we broke for intermission, I glanced at my watch and was astounded to discover that the piece had lasted a full half hour. Vangeline, with her controlled flow of energy and compelling energetic shifts, obliges a depth of concentration that nullifies time.



The second work of the program, Butoh Beethoven, in complete contrast to the first piece, embodied an extroverted, impulsive, aggressive energy. Draped in a full length black robe, Vangeline stands on a dark mound surrounded by a circle of lit, white pebbles.
She holds in her hand a red, flashing light that she manipulates for strobe effect against her jerky, writhing torso – all to the sounds of air raid sirens and bombers.

After this overture, she squats to the ground, extinguishes the red strobe light, and in the darkness picks up a conductor’s baton. The baton lights up like a magic wand as we hear the sound of an orchestra tuning. The illuminated baton appears to float upward as the dancer’s body is invisible on the unlit stage.
When the stage lights do come up, Vangeline sheds her black robe to reveal a long white
dress composed of tiers of handkerchiefs designed by Todd Thomas.

She launches into an impassioned fit of conducting Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – hair
and dress whipping and flying about, white powdered face contorting in grotesque expressions.
Her arms churn up the music’s majesty as she appears to draw the powerful sounds, at times from the earth and then from the heavens. She descends to the ground in a state of internal process as her contorting face takes on the appearance of a ghoulish mask. She extends a trembling, clawlike hand as a loud drone drowns out the symphony.

Is this the torment of the master of sublime sound going deaf? From this morbid scene, Vangeline
(Beethoven) recovers to the sound of planes hovering over crashing waves. Then, only crashing waves are audible as she drifts backward into unlit darkness.
And once again, as if to embark on another act of creative genius, she illuminates the conductor’s
baton and stretches her arm upward.

Who was this French-American young woman – a dancer who was most likely shaped in the styles and technique of the West? What inspired her to become an exponent of butoh? Shortly after the performance, I sat down with Vangeline to discuss this and more. She had been trained in ballet and jazz and was working as a jazz dancer in 1999 when she saw Sankai Juku (internationally known butoh troupe founded in 1975 by Ushio Amagatsu) perform at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

“I fell in love. So, I started looking for a butoh teacher,” she disclosed. She had felt limited by the sexualized roles she was cast in as a woman in Western dance and was looking to explore beyond that. The decision to perform her own work came hand-in-hand with embarking on butoh training. At first she labeled her choreography “butoh-influenced.”

After five years and a thorough review of her work, her Japanese mentors gave her the permission
and encouragement to use the white face paint that is a hallmark of the form and to call her work “butoh.” She has now studied for eighteen years with butoh masters in Mexico, the United States, and Japan. Her primary teacher is Tetsuro Fukuhara, a sixty-eight-year-old, second generation butoh artist with whom she collaborates on projects and events with the goal of making butoh accessible to the general public.

Vangeline emphasized, “Butoh masters of the second generation are passing. We are navigating
the challenge of preserving a rich legacy, but also giving space for new work and evolution.”

One of the new areas Vangeline doggedly pursues is the use of butoh in prisons. She explained
that she had always felt an affinity for imprisoned populations and remarked, “I have often thought that not having dominion over your body is a kind of death.” Early on while teaching butoh classes, she recognized the potential of the form. Indeed, the intense concentration on body awareness honed through butoh training makes it a particularly transformative practice for incarcerated populations.

For three years, her proposals were rejected by the New York Department of Corrections. Finally, after calling herself a “modern dancer,” they offered her a trial opportunity to work with a female population. After three months, the administration recognized its value and bought into it.

She explained, “Correctional facilities are very noisy places. There is no privacy and people are always measuring and evaluating each other. Butoh gives the participants the quiet space to concentrate on awareness of their own bodies and emotions. This translates into less
anxiety, more receptivity, and more accomplishment.”
But this is not a one-way street.

Vangeline sees the prison work as a natural extension of butoh’s investigation of the unconscious. She asserted, “Prisons are the part of society that we don’t really look at or acknowledge. They are part of the uncomfortable, taboo material that Butoh examines.”

I questioned Vangeline about the relationship between the two performance pieces. She sometimes dances them in reverse order. She replied, “They are two sides of the same coin – one is feminine; one is masculine. One is the moon; one is the sun.” She confessed that switching from one to the other is difficult either way, although, she is finding it easier to make the transition from the slow, controlled, minimal movements of Eclipse to the expansive energy of Beethoven as opposed to the other way around.

Not surprising, Vangeline admits to having a gripping fascination with things that glow in the dark and the body’s reaction to light and darkness. In Eclipse, Vangeline is the source of light. In Beethoven, the creative impulse symbolized by the conductor’s baton is the first and final glint of light. Perhaps one can only discover the light if one truly probes the darkness.

©2018 Karen Greenspan


Glowing Review of Elsewhere with Vangeline - Picture This Post - by Allison Pladmondon

Critics are raving about Vangeline Theater's new work ELSEWHERE, which opened at GIbney Dance in June 2018. Read the First review here!


Vangeline Theater Presents ELSEWHERE Review- Beautiful and Terrifying

Posted on June 7, 2018 by Allison Plamondon

At some point she must have started to move. The lights, first shining on a hot red sun hanging at the back of the stage, take their time to reveal a figure - a woman wearing a long black dress from another time period, her hair pulled up in a polished bun. She is standing very still - for a very long time. There is a certain elegance and poise to her stillness. One would think that everything is just fine in this world, though the vibrating, abrasive soundscape suggests otherwise. It is a bold juxtaposition and we are transfixed.

At long last, the light hits her face differently and it becomes clear that something must have changed, she must have moved. Her moving with such nuance and control is eventually (but suddenly) contrasted with a sharp change in her level. Technically, she is probably merely bending her knees, but to us, the change is monumental. We are on the edge of our seats.

In ELSEWHERE, performed by Vangeline and composer, Yuka C. Honda, we never know what will happen next.

Vangeline Theater – an anomaly in Butoh world

Vangeline is a teacher, dancer and choreographer specializing in Butoh, the Japanese postwar avant-garde movement form. A French woman practicing Butoh, a typically male dominated field, Vangeline is a rarity who has even founded the New York Butoh Institute. Yuka C. Honda is a musician, producer, composer and performer originally from Tokyo. Honda has collaborated with the likes of Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon and is co-founder of the band, Cibo Matto. It’s no surprise that these incredibly skilled, innovative artists collaborate on a piece that celebrates the life of another courageous woman, Japanese performer Omoto Tannaker (1842-1916). The program states that “ELSEWHERE is a story of migration and cultural encounters and that with this piece they explore their roots while investigating the idea of shared space in performance”.

Honda sits at a table just off the left side of the stage. Though we can barely see her by the light of her laptop and keyboard set-up, there is an elegance in her own shifts of movement as she orchestrates the spectacular score. This improvised composition ranges from foreboding to frightening, to deafening, and then explodes into the cathartic before settling into a kind of reverie. The score serves as a powerful duet partner, beautifully demonstrating music as inner life. Butoh, as translated, means “dance of darkness”. Vangeline says “It is the realm of the hidden, of the subconscious, of things we usually don’t dare look at in ourselves and in others. Butoh reveals our deep humanity.”

Throughout the piece, the soundscape brings the darkness to the surface and foreshadows what is to come.

‘What is to come’ is a huge contrast to the opening image of stillness. As the piece evolves, the movement becomes more expressive - stylized and emotional. The word emotional might be a gross understatement. It is a transformation. At the climax of the piece, the movement is much more animalistic - Vangeline shakes and flogs herself as her perfect bun comes loose and hair pins go flying! Unbridled and grotesque, it seems a far far cry from the opening image physically, but we know that the darkness has been there all along.

Highly recommended for dance and theatre lovers who enjoy innovative collaborations and work that challenges their own expectations.

Interested in Butoh? Check out the  New York Butoh Festival October 12-23, 2018 curated by Vangeline Theater.

PHOTOS:  by Michael Blase -Courtesy of Vangeline Theater

I LOVE BUTOH -Mari Osanai and Madelyn Sher on Valentines Day


Don't Miss I LOVE BUTOH February 14th, presented by Vangeline Theater.

An evening of Contemporary Dance influenced by Butoh featuring renowned Japanese dancer MARI OSANAI, from Aomori Japan and Contemporary dancer/ choreographer Madelyn Sher (New York). Complimentary chocolate delicacies will be served.

This Valentine's day, Wednesday, February 14th, join us in our love of Butoh, dance and chocolate for a multi-sensory experience to remember! 


At Triskelion Arts

106 Calyer Street (enter on Banker)

G train to Green point Avenue


Get your tastebuds ready! Your ticket buys you a delicious chocolate tasting experience as well as a one-hour dance performance featuring world-renowned Contemporary dancer Mari Osanai, as well as New York-born Madelyn Sher. Bring your loved loves!

Tickets: $20/$22 at the door

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


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


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

Very recently, the outpouring of rage coming from women prompted me to come forward with my experience as a woman making her way through the male-dominated dance world. Week after week, women have had the courage to share their painful experiences, which has caused me to reflect on what I have gone through personally and professionally. These revelations made me realize how much I had covered up by remaining silent all these years. These are my reflections around the subject of power dynamics and gender in dance.


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”.

Since 2017, a tidal wave of accusations against men in positions of power has swept across America.

As women know only too well, abuse does not have to be necessarily sexual in nature - misogyny and sexism can manifest in a myriad of ways. Men in power can resort to various tactics to intimidate, belittle and ultimately - protect their position of power.

As a society, we tend to worship at the altar of patriarchy. Men dominate every area of society, while women learn at an early age to internalize oppression. As a result, even women can be dismissive of the word of other women when they come forward to share their stories.

The dance world is still ripe with misogyny; as a result, a woman teacher, director or choreographer may face serious problems throughout her career. For example, women are still held to an impossible double standard and are often expected to “nurture” and not “lead” by both sexes. A successful female choreographer or teacher may be labeled as "aggressive," while her male counterpart will be merely perceived as confident. This implicit bias against female leaders makes it extremely challenging for women to navigate the pitfalls of a career in the dance world.

Gender inequality is particularly apparent when it comes to the teacher/ student relationship in dance. When a woman starts teaching, her male students will not think twice about asking her out on a date, advising her on how to teach, or making demands on her time. Men seem entirely 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; for example, male students have called me “lovely” or “pretty”, when they would never dare openly comment on the looks of their male teachers. Some have offered advice on what type of music I should play in my class, while others have demanded to meet with me before or after class.

Men often cover up their insecurities by engaging in "mansplaining", aka condescending to the female teacher when in fact their “own knowledge of the subject she teaches is materially incomplete” (Psychology Today). One day, an inexperienced male student came up to me right after I had given a public lecture and proceeded to lecture me back (using concepts I had just shared). I have often wondered why it seems so incredibly difficult for some men to receive any form of instruction from a woman, or why it is so hard for them to simply listen. It is as though, in our patriarchal society, a woman in a position of authority is automatically perceived as a threat.

When the roles are reversed, women are rising through the ranks can encounter serious problems with male teachers. Young female students can be traumatized, and these early experiences may greatly impact their ability to succeed later in life. A friend of mine was raped by her male dance teacher when she was still in college; when she reported the sexual assault, the woman was blamed, and no action was taken.

Unfortunately, men's needs are still socially sanctioned. It is not uncommon for female students to be harassed by their teachers, having to ward off unwanted sexual advances. Women go through life 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.

I too brushed up with abusive power dynamics while I was studying dance. 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, some of the dynamics in his workshops started to make me feel uncomfortable. This man was very charismatic and had a “following”; he was regarded as much as a "guru" as a dance teacher. Yet, his methods felt violent and unsafe.

The exercises were often punishing: Ankles and arms were broken; and on one occasion, I blacked out after violently hitting my head against another student. Instead of being taken to a doctor or a hospital, I was told to dance in front of the other students after regaining consciousness. Even though injuries were common, no one in the student pool batted an eyelid. The degree of violence was proportional to the level of respect these risky exercises commanded.

When I expressed my mixed feelings to other students (including female students), they told me that my feelings were merely a reflection of my lack of commitment or lack of understanding of the practice. For a very long time, I interpreted my resistance to his autocratic and violent teaching practices as my own failing. I was reminded often that if I did not feel comfortable, it was for my own good; according to him, these feelings had to be surmounted to proceed with my training.

Older students often reminded me that this teacher was a "spiritual Master who knew best". In fact, this teacher was not respected, but revered by his older students or "devotees”, who attributed him semi-magical qualities. As a result, violence in training was rationalized, minimized and normalized.

Psychotherapist Rob Preece, the author of Our Teachers, are Not God, defined this type of dysfunctional dynamic as "a kind of masochistic intoxication with a teacher’s abusive behavior, with the devotee justifying it as something that is all part of his or her path” (Preece).

The male teacher in question held absolute authority and 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 or criticism was met with agitated and angry outbursts, and we were told that our egos were in need of “submission”.

This type of abusive behavior is not uncommon when teachers end up in a position of uncontested power. In his article Abuse of Power, Alan Mc Evoy noted that "almost without exception, offending teachers mask their mistreatment of students as part of a legitimate role function, using the rhetoric of “motivation” or “discipline” to justify their actions".

Rob Preece added:

“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”.

Because this art form was so new to me, it never occurred to me that these exercises had little to do with the dance itself but perhaps satisfied the teachers’ unconscious need to dominate. I had no reason to question this man, who was unanimously respected professionally. Instead, I questioned myself.

We know today that there can be severe consequences to gender unbalances. As expert Mary Crawford points out in her book "Talking Difference: On Gender and Language", a lifetime of unequal power relationships conditions women to trust men in positions of authority (and second-guess themselves). When a group of female students is led by one man, more often than not, women may end up disempowered.

In the context of a student/ teacher relationship, these power constructs are often predicated on an assumption of female inferiority, with an implicit belief in women's deficiency (which can only be remedied by masculine intervention). In the process, masculinity becomes imposed on women. However, as studies have shown, gender-based violence often lurks behind toxic masculine constructs.

It is quite problematic that masculine violence should be presented as a tool for female empowerment. Women, who are statistically victims of various forms of violence from men, may initially be seduced by the argument and convince themselves that by engaging with violent partnering exercises, they too can become empowered. In fact, discharging violent impulses can initially be freeing.

However, when such exercises take place in a male-dominated context, with one man is a position of absolute power, women ultimately end up lacking ownership of their own process. Instead of challenging gender roles, such dynamics are often in place to maintain existing power relations.

In her book, "Women and Dance. Sylphs and Sirens", feminist writer Christy Adair identified this specific phenomenon as "recuperation":

A process by which women are initially portrayed as autonomous and powerful, only to have that independence eroded.
— Adair

This teacher, for example, presented his work as a form of “liberation” from the chains of social conditioning; he talked about gender inequality and dreamed of creating a new generation of female amazons.

Yet, a double standard was often at play: For example, women were often admonished to be more supportive of male students (essentially, reinforcing the prevalent message that women should be nurturers), while facing several forms of violence and psychological manipulation in training; verbally, in the form of a constant barrage of criticism, and psychologically and physically, through a continuous violation of their personal boundaries. The teacher also expected women organizers to take care of his professional needs.

To give the reader an example of the type of methods used in these workshops: under the guise of teaching students loosen inhibitions, this teacher coerced students to engage in sexual exercises in front of each other. In one exercise, blindfolded students were instructed to have frenzied sex with a tree or a bottle in front of the entire group.

Alternatively, students were paired up in dangerous wrestling matches in a sand pit, pressing on each other violently. In another type of exercise, one student was groped and pushed by the entire group, resulting in a violation of personal boundaries. A female student broke her ankle in front of me during this type of exercise.

In a context where students are under the thumb of one autocratic male teacher, pushed to the limit into frenzied states from morning until evening, exhausted and pressured to conform, the question of consent is highly ambiguous.

Further, when a dialogue with teachers is not permitted, and when there is no system of check and balance in place, over time, ethical boundaries are bound to erode. This erosion, in this instance, manifested as inappropriate personal comments, which constitute another form of violence against women.

Female students were, on one occasion, called "angry wombs" and "empty wombs." This teacher told us that women are "programmed" to have children, and that when we failed to fulfill our biological destiny, our wombs were "angry", which, he claimed, affected the quality of our dance.

Although these sexist comments may seem laughable, in the context of a teacher/student relationship, one cannot underestimate the impact of these male-centered messages on the female psyche. One the one hand, women were encouraged to emulate men and engage in forms of normative masculine violence to achieve mastery within the art form, and, on the other hand, they were reminded of the inescapability of their biological destiny.

In fact, this teacher did not just teach dance; he dispensed personal and spiritual advice as though he were an authority on the subject of life itself. Whenever dance teachers pose as spiritual masters and feel justified to publicly put students on the spot, shame them, or criticize aspects of their personal life in front of other students during class, a serious ethical boundary has been breached.

Yet perhaps the most confounding aspect of this phenomenon is that, in many cases, once a power structure has been established in a group context, it is unlikely to be challenged. Psychologists call this propensity for denial "cognitive dissonance". When we experience conflicted thoughts, we tend to eliminate the most troubling thought to protect the integrity of our experience. Rationalizing and justifying aberrant behavior is less stressful than facing conflict.

Rob Preece described the enormous 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.

Unfortunately, collective denial tends to lead to a general lack of accountability, which, in turn, almost always translates into a further breaking down of ethical boundaries. For example, studies have shown that valorizing violence also results in the strengthening of a rape culture. Not surprisingly, the misogyny and sexism so embedded in the teachings I received also led to inappropriate behavior from fellow male students, who modeled after the male teacher.

As a result of a mixture of violence and sexual exercises, it was not uncommon to see in these workshops male students who used the physical proximity to their advantage and abused the situation, further violating women's personal boundaries.

However, the idea of “female empowerment”, or the myth of a “wise elder” are so appealing to us that we try to protect them at all cost. However, while protecting our own delusions and projections, we also protect the patriarchy and patterns of oppression. As Preece pointed out: “it is therefore necessary for us to wake up and not be beguiled by charismatic teachers and our own need to idealize."

Dysfunctional male teachers can indeed be extremely charismatic and charming. The adoring female student enthralled by a male teacher may seem like a cliche, but it is nonetheless commonplace in the classroom. Students may, without realizing it, form a deep attachment to their teachers, in the exact same way that victims of intimate partner violence form a bond with their abusers, a phenomenon more commonly known as traumatic bonding.

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.

In my case, I rationalized that I could endure the many violations of boundaries. I only realized later on that there were serious consequences to these repetitive boundary violations and put-downs. As long as I stayed embroiled in the dynamic, I was not able to acknowledge the severity of the problem - it took a clean break for me to begin to come to terms with the issue.

When testimonials of abuse, sexism, and misogyny come out, they elicit strong emotional reactions and are very divisive, proportional to the level of cognitive dissonance and attachment to the male mystique. Unfortunately, no one is immune to this phenomenon - anyone can become a victim of denial.

These patterns of denial are not individual, but they are collective patterns embedded in the very fabric of our society. Today, a younger generation is developing an awareness of various forms of gender-based violence. The concepts of consent and toxic masculinity have entered our consciousness, and we are making headway.

In recent years, a clear link has also been established between gender-based violence and the lack of advancement of women in the world. It has become evident that misogyny is deeply embedded in our economic structures.

In this particular instance, over the course of several years, not surprisingly, other female organizers and I were expected to perform unpaid labor for this teacher, who was adamant that a student, who took on the role of producer, should not get paid.

Under the guise of receiving "private teaching," I spent hours working with no remuneration, 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. Produced events.

Never received any private teaching. I was told that money was not important and that it was a great honor to support him. Yet, if money was not deemed “important” for the women in this equation, the male teacher made sure that he was paid in full. This is emblematic of the gender divide: at a time where men and women still have no equal pay, women’s work is routinely devalued, and women are expected to pave the way for "great" men.

Unfortunately, men's great achievements often come at significant 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.

The exploitation of women is not a rare occurrence in the dance world. 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 or not, is always about power, and power held by men represents economic opportunities denied to women. Yet disrespect and abuse of women are 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 accept the situation as status quo.

Today, we need to acknowledge that the dance world has its fair share of male “gurus” or untouchable men who often cross ethical lines. This phenomenon, by the way, is hardly unique to the dance world. 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.

It is our undiscerning deference, which contributes to these teachers' narcissism. Without room for criticism or oversight, we end up creating monsters instead of teachers.

Learning from this experience, I have developed a system of checks and balances for my work. My classes are audited; my work with the community is evaluated by separate organizations. I also seek professional feedback to ensure that I work within ethical boundaries. 

Since breaking from oppressive educational models, I have educated myself on the scope of trauma research. As a result, I have learned to identify risky pedagogical practices.  Like many dance professionals today, I now advocate a trauma-informed approach to learning.

In the end, an important lesson that I learned is to identify the harmful patterns surrounding the abuse of power. 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.

Misogynists are not aware that they hate women. But many of us, women included, need to confront our tendency to put men first. Women need to reckon with the harmful consequences of their own misogyny.

In our dance communities, we had better learn to cultivate appropriate boundaries and set guidelines that protect women who are consistently the victims of abusive power dynamics. We also need to learn to confront dangerous power imbalances.

It may be important to point out that dancers may be particularly vulnerable to abuse. From an early age, we are taught to follow discipline. Like soldiers, we obey our teachers, whatever the cost may be. This is why I believe that 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 to self-examine and be beyond reproach, we leave the door wide open to an endemic and self-perpetuating abuse of women.

While 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 the patriarchy. A normalized, hegemonic masculine culture of violence has infiltrated every aspect of our societies, and the sad legacy of abuse often perpetuates from one generation to the next. If we want change, we had better give women a voice and a platform to share their experiences. Tell your story today. Or better yet, when a woman comes forward with her story, learn to listen.

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)




Adair, Christy. Women and Dance. Sylphs and Sirens. 1992. New York University Press.

Batchelor, Stephen. Why I Quit Guru Yoga. Tricycle.

Brogaard, Berit. 12 Ways to Spot a Misogynist. Psychology Today. Feb 18, 2015. Web.

Escoyne, Courtney. Can we please acknowledge ballet’s sexism problem already? April 24, 2017. Dance Magazine.

Mc.Evoy, Alan. Abuse of Power. Teaching Tolerance. Issue 48, Fall 2014.

Preece, Robert. Our teachers are not our Gods. July 20, 2017. Lion’s Roar. Web.

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

Tierney, John. Go Ahead, Rationalize. Monkeys Do It, Too. New York Times. Nov 6, 2007. Web.

Krauss Whitbourne, Susan Ph.D. This Is How Men Irritate Women the Most. Psychology Today. Web.


 First released Nov 27, 2017 - edited January 14, 2019























Good Bye Butoh Master Yukio Waguri


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!


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


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]









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

Ohno V web.jpg