This image of polished professionals became the inspiration for the "Senators" video. As he was falling asleep one night, Fields envisioned himself and Alena Spanger, the other singer in "Senators," in an exaggerated debate. "People in a business negation use control in their facial expressions and bodies to project power," says Fields. "All of a sudden I thought, 'Oh, this is butoh!' — the way that form of dance abstracts the body and finds a sort of dream logic."
But Fields didn’t know any performers, so a friend connected him with Vangeline, a French-American butoh dancer. Like Fields, she came to butoh unexpectedly, when a friend took her to BAM to see internationally renowned butoh troupe Sankai Juku. Butoh’s acknowledgement of darkness spoke to her. "We all have [primitive] energies inside of us, [but] most of us have been socialized to repress them," Vangeline says. "In butoh we give them an arbitrary expression…. We’re giving a voice to the Genie in the bottle, and then [putting] it back in."
To make the video, Vangeline and one of her principal dancers, Azumi, worked through long takes to keep their almost imperceptible movements authentic despite wearing the less-than-authentic costume of contemporary business suits. Their tension mirrors the stilted mannerisms of family dinners or first dates, and as the video progresses, flickers of surreal, traditional butoh encroach upon this modern scene, all gnarled limbs and ashen makeup. This is the brilliance of the video: It reflects the sinister, or at least uncomfortable, truths that can lie just beneath the surface of our social interactions. Both butoh and the song itself operate on subconscious levels, and if neither makes sense at first, the merging of Fields’s and Vangeline’s mediums brings the purpose of both into sharp focus.
It was a collaboration of like-minded artists. "He pushes himself to the limit of what is socially acceptable," Vangeline says of Fields’s unbridled performance style, which is visually the polar opposite of butoh but philosophically similar. "There’s something in him that is fearless; he doesn’t mind making himself uncomfortable. That’s such an important part of the work that we do – we have to be willing to be uncomfortable."
Leverage Models DJ at Good Room on May 3. Click here for more information and ticket