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.

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More info about the Hijikata Tastumi Archives at Keio University:

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