Sunday, February 4, 2001 - Special spotlight performance!
Don McLeod's Butoh Theatre – Behind The Mirror
Created & performed by Don McLeod.
Don McLeod on Butoh -
"For me, Butoh is a way of life, a way of being fully alive in present time. Many of us spend much our conscious lives restricting the body's movement always attempting to conform to social standards of acceptable behavior. Butoh is a return to a more primal or natural way of movement like that of a child or animal.
Most of my work is improvisational. I may start with a theme, or a series of images and then let the body take me where it may. Many of the images I use are from my daily observations of people, animals, plants or even more obscure sources -- concepts that are found in surrealistic paintings, avant garde music and literature. A look on a strangers face, a memory of a dead relative, or even the shape and texture of a stone can be inspiration for a whole series of spontaneous movements. Kabuki and Noh theatre, Zen, Tai Chi and Qigong are also major influences. Certainly the art of Ukiyo-e (Japanese prints) with its animated characters . . . with Butoh the performer must return to a place before thought, a place where the body and mind become a blank canvas . . . I try to attain 'a beginner's mind,' for as the great Zen master Dogen once said, 'In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the mind of the expert, there are few.'
I move as if discovering movement for the first time.After fifty years of trying to control my actions, this state of being can be quite liberating. In my Butoh, the audience hopefully receives something from my physical expressions, as if they were looking at themselves in a mirror. They may not receive the exact image that I have focused on, but they cannot mistake the imagistic process. I believe my many years as a haiku poet have been instrumental in my being drawn to Butoh as an art form. In haiku we train ourselves to be attentive to the smaller workings of humans and nature, that otherwise might go unnoticed. This way of seeing is essential to creating a focused and meaningful Butoh performance.
Unlike most Butoh performers, I use a certain amount of concrete physical imagery, and then pull back to examine that conscious state, from a more primitive perspective. Butoh is about transformation and becoming other. From human states of being to animal to plant to mineral . . . it's the journey over the arrival. We work in a nonlinear way, compressing time into a series of elongated moments. Butoh is an earth dance, a dance of darkness and light, a dance of the human spirit defining itself through memory, tension and release." - Don McLeod
"McLeod's voiceless, primal drama is beautiful . . ." --Hollywood Reporter
"The first Westerner I've seen, who performs with the same intensity as that of Butoh's founder, Hijikata. McLeod creates a medium of primal connections. His work in Dreams From the Floating World is a realization of the similarities in all cultures, yet it undermines preconceived notions of how the self is viewed. Part dark cabaret, part mime, with the overall physicality of dance and the expressiveness of theatre ...all these elements are included in an unforgettable evening of butoh." --Yonetani Yoshi, Art-Circle Mutant Theatre Group Osaka, Japan
"As the best movement artist we've seen ... he reflects a warm and winning personality which completely captured the attention of the sold-out concert series finale." --Washington State University
"His performance at UCLA provided an evening of artistry rarely seen in live theatre today...great music and damn good entertainment that makes one think. There were no seats left...and the audience hung on his every move..." --Los Angeles Free Press
"McLeod is a creative genius. He has taken a unique art form and updated it into something of rare beauty." --The Newhall Signal
"Excitingly different . . . we were thrilled to have Don McLeod on the show." --Jane Pauley, NBC's Today Show
"McLeod is the Prince of mime." --Los Angeles Times
"The best gorilla actor I've ever seen . . . Thanks for a great show." --Jane Fonda