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Thought is a form, body never lies and dance is a native language of the soul", Sakurako
Present of Being Present
After graduation form Rietveld Academy in 2008 I was creating highly conceptual works, low visibility interventions with the flavour of institutional critique and site-specific installations, however there was need to focus on the performance art. Instead of using various materials at hand transforming the given space, I started using my body and presence as the main material continuing working in situ. The main shift in my artistic practice occurred in 2011 coming in contact with a Japanese contemporary dance butoh, starting instensive trainings with various masters around Europe and Japan, including Yumiko Yoshioka (JP/DE), Ko Murobusgi (JP), Masaki Iwana (JP/FR), Yukio Waguri (JP), Seisaku Kochi (JP), Ken Mai (JP/FI), Atsushi Takenouchi (JP/IT), Natsu Nakajima (JP) and others.
Butoh was a radical transformation of my works. Although conceptual thinking remained, the approach became very physical, resulting in live performances balancing at the edge of performamce art, theatre and dance. Various site-specific and stage based performances have been created solo and in collaboration with others. Since 2012 I founded a dance-theatre company “Re-United Now-Here” in Amsterdam & in 2015 moved to Paris. In 2017 Sakurako together with French composer and performer Phil Von have moved to Lithuania and founded butoh dance company OKARUKAS in Vilnius. .
Human condition is a subject matter of the performance and dance works, as an ongoing exploration of the body/mind/spirit phenomena and body memory. This is an endless discovery, archeological excavation of the body, awakening of the forgotten memories, getting closer to the roots. What do we know that we don’t know we know? Concepts of ego and the true self are under investigation. A Japanese concept of MA, the space in between, emptiness, interrelation of formlessness and form are ongoing investigation would be working with the physical space creating installations or the body making a dance piece. The aim of the performance work is through the transformation of the performer’s body to transform the space around so the transformation of the other bodies within this space would becomes possible.
ABOUT SAKURAKO'S WORK
Some thoughts on the work of Sakurako by Jasper Coppes
Outside it is raining. The drizzle can be seen through the window, it is lit by the ochre streetlight. Because the streetlamp is attached right above my window it is impossible to enjoy the night. The yellow windowpane creates a luminous border to an indistinct black space. In it I project the possibility of a large purple cloud. This wet blanket stretches out beyond the city, into the hills, where it touches dead branches, leaves of grass and the surface of a lake. One thought touches another. Back in my room I see a man dancing in black and white underwear, exhibiting a set of intriguing movements. The man turns out to be the Polish actor Ryszard Cieslak. In the 1970’s Cielsak worked with Jerzy Grotovski, a renown innovator of experimental theatre. Under the umbrella of the ‘theatre laboratory” they developed the ‘plastiques’, a series of strenuous postures, gestures and tumbles.
Cieslak holds his right arm stretched out in front of him and moves his hand. The movement is somewhat like a little wave. It begins in the shape of a tiger’s claw, then unfolds and twitches into a triangle. From this triangular ‘tent’ shape it relaxes into a grasping gesture to flow back into form of the claw. He repeats the movement until it becomes entirely fluent, liquid. With his arm still firmly stretched outward the hand playfully explores the environment. I have the awkward sensation of seeing a jellyfish pulsing through the ocean, attached at the end of someone’s arm.
I am completely captivated by this event. It seems quite impossible. How can one move one’s body this way? That hand has become an autonomous entity! Cieslak seems to be just as amazed as me. He looks at his hand as if he’s detached from it. As if he’s watching a rare life form. Observing it, spellbound. The dancer doesn’t seem to be initiating the movement of his own hand. It is free. Independent. Alone. I try to settle in my chair while I let these two creatures dance around. Cieslek and his hand captured in an amorous whirl of spontaneous movement. As I watch I ponder. Where is this movement coming from? This activity, what is its origin? What mysterious source does it erupt from?
From my lazy chair I think about the body’s potential. It’s potential to move a particular way. And this, it seems to me, is what is being demonstrated here. It’s not Cieslek who is moving, its not the actor, who was born in Poland, who raised a daughter, who smoked a package of cigarettes a day. It’s not the guy who chatted with his friend about the weather, who had revolutionary idea’s about theater. No. The movement is initiated his body, independently from him. Cieslek is merely drifting on it, following it carefully. In result, an incredible presence manifests: the presence of the body’s potential. Unrestrained.
When I was living in the countryside my friend Sakurako introduced me to the art of Butoh dance, a dance form that first appeared in Japan after the Second World War. From the couch we projected videos on a white sheet we’d hung in front of the bookcase. We watched recordings of Sakurako’s very first performances, and she showed me other excerpts of dancers she admired. Now I come to think of it, there seems to be a similarity with Cieslek: the suggestion of detachment from the body while it moves. Perhaps Butoh is similarly a way to activate the body’s autonomous presence, balancing between absolute control and unconstrained movement. Through the grotesque, the extreme or the absurd, in slow hyper-controlled motion, the Butoh dancer generates not only a sense of presence that extends towards the viewer. It also produces shock.
When I bring earlier works of Sakurako to mind there is another meaningful aspect of the dance that comes to the surface. I remember her interest in emptiness, in the space between things. Making glass casts of voids, pointing our attention to forgotten elements of the buildings she exhibited in. A mesh of thin thread extended the colors of a carpet towards the ceiling. With huge transparent plastic sheets she captured the airflow in an abandoned office building. To me Butoh is the dance of absence; it is the crippling of reason, the disintegration of the commonplace, the destruction of convention.
Back in my room the light has not diminished. The dull yellow gleam is still the same. But beyond the window I sense the sad people appearing – a grotesque and scornful world – in the form of a bus driver and his passengers. They avoid each other’s gaze as though something worse than alienation had erupted between them. I see their hands clutched on the iron safety bars as if they were my own, at the end of my own arm, stretched out in front of me. Their legs are mine, trembling with every bump, and each hole in the road. Hips gently shaking left and right. Bodies touching apologetically, in surprise making unexpected twitches and shudders. All of these movements are mine as well. They are within me like the stars and nebulae that look outward into the dark expanse of the night. This is what I remember when I see Inga’s performances. All of these movements are the recurrent trembles of the shock of history, of being born into the world. When we follow these movements they are allowed to fade away in consciousness. Until we reach the endless emptiness in which all of reality’s potential timelessly resides.