Truth Through Dance

                                                                                               photo by iina naoto


Takao Kawaguchi is a dancer and media artist, and a former member of the Japanese collective Dumb Type. Takao Kawaguchi independently did a number of collaboration projects, with sound/visual artists combining the elements of light and sound, and video such as: DiQueNoVes (Say You Don't See) (2003), D.D.D.- How Many Times Will My Heart Beat Before It Stops? (2004), Good Luck (2008) and TABLEMIND (2011).

Since 2008 Kawaguchi has been working on his solo, site-specific performance series called a perfect life until today. The most recent one “From Okinawa to Tokyo” was presented in February 2013 at the Ebisu Moving Image Festival at Tokyo Metropolitan Photography Museum. In recent years he has created Butoh-related works such as: The Ailing Dance Mistress– two solos based on the texts of Tatsumi Hijikata(2012) with Tomomi Tanabe; and About Kazuo Ohno – Reliving the Butoh Diva’s Masterpieces (2013).


                                        photo by Takuya Matsumi

Kawaguchi has participated in a number of other collective projects including: true (2007) and Node – The Old Man of the Desert (2013) with Takayuki Fujimoto (dumb type) and Tsuyoshi Shirai; and Tri-K(2010) with Dick Wong (dancer/choreographer, Hong Kong) and Koichi Imaizumi (filmmaker, Tokyo); and most recently Touch of the Other(2015) with Jonathan M. Hall (professor of queer media studies at Pomona College, Los Angeles). Recently, Takao conducted a Contemporary Dance Workshop along with Surjit Nongmeikapam at the Sparsh Studio organized by Buoyant Performin Arts, Kolkata.

What do you have to say about the contemporary dance scene in general, especially works produced by your contemporaries?

In the contemporary dance scene today there are more and more works that are self-referent, commenting on the history of dance, and questioning what their dance is based on: techniques, notion of beauty, what and how the body is, and where we stand in relation to the reality of the world today. A lot of questionings. Now that the conventional values and institutions have become incompetent to tackle many of the problems we face in today’s society, this is the time when we are asked to think where we have come from and where we are heading to.


Describe your approach to movement and your creative process? What is the role of instinct in your creations?

My creative process is the process to search for what I would like to, and must, say through my work. Sometimes the vessel (technique, tools, method, et al) comes first, and that discovery or invention brings the contents with it, reflecting my real thought and feeling in terms of the reality I face now and here.


                                   photo by Takuya Matsumi

How do you see the influence of Butoh on contemporary dance?

Butoh was the rejection of conventional techniques of dance and the conventional notion of beauty. When the world encountered Butoh, it was a big shock as it denied the conventional beauty that modernism had believed in. Thus, Butoh shook the art world and triggered it to question the conventions and began its own search for its new truth.

How have advancements in technology affected dance?

One example of how technology affects dance. In TABLEMIND, performance piece i created and premiered in January 2011, my media-art collaborator proposed images captured by high-speed camera to be replayed almost instantly, which was the state of the art technology at that time. In response to that, i proposed, on my part, to make real body animation. High-speed camera captured normal speed movement at 90 (or 120) frames per second, and out-puts slow motion projection.


                                photo by Takuya Matsumi

So, in the performance, I moved a fast movement in the piece, and the system captured it and transformed into a slow motion movie quasi-simultaneously (there was only 1 second gap). My response to that technology was to make an animation: moving two centimeters at a time every five seconds, and capture the still images of my body of each moment by the regular camera, which was sequenced into an animation. This process was as time-consuming as any kind of animation film making. As a result, TABLEMIND juxtaposed two different kinds of images, similar in how they look, but essentially different in their principles.

This experience has led me to explore more in the idea of time and speed in dance, and movement of human body. The modern technology’s idea and discovering of what a motion is is inspiring me to explore in slow movement in projects including my recent SLOW BODY which began in 2014.

And what advice would you give younger dancers or choreographers?

Be bold and dare to challenge and question all kinds of conventions in the world that otherwise would shadow our lives.

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