"It suddenly popped into my head, I want to become Kazuo Ohno."

About Kazuo Ohno
― Reliving the Butoh Diva’s Masterpieces
Takao Kawaguchi
Solo Dance Performance

Choreography: Kazuo Ohno and Tastumi Hijikata
Dance: Takao Kawaguchi
Dramaturge, Visual and Sound: Naoto Iina
Costumes: Kitamura Noriko
Lighting, Stage Director: Toshio Mizohata
Appearance in Video: Yoshito Ohno
Archive materials courtesy of: Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio, CANTA Ltd.
Production management : Toshio Mizohata

photo bozzo


Europe & Asia Tour in Autumn 2018

2-5 Oct. Théâtre de la Ville de Paris - Espace Cardin (Paris, France)
9-10 Oct. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain)
23 Oct. Power Mac Center (Manila, Philippines)
26-28 Oct. Chang Theatre [Pichet Klunchun Theatre] (Bangkok, Thailand)

Related Events ————————————

Talk : COPY IS ORIGINAL - About Kazuo Ohno
27th September 2018, Charles III University of Madrid
(Speakers : Takao Kawaguchi, Eva Paloma Sanz Guillén)

Exhibition : Kazuo Ohno, une traversée du siècle
2nd - 6th October, Théâtre de la Ville de Paris - Espace Cardin未設定

Exhibition : Un movimiento que se resiste a ser fijado: Kazuo Ohno y La Argentina
10 Oct - 15 Feb 2019

Dance Archive Project 2017 in Saitama
Takao Kawaguchi’s “About Kazuo Ohno
-- Reliving the Butoh Diva's Masterpieces”

Saturday, December 2nd & Sunday, December 3rd, 2017. 15:00-17:00
Venue: Sainokuni Saitama Arts Theater
Admission fee: 3,000 yen in advance/ 3,500 yen at the door
U-25: For ones under 26 years old 2,500 yen in advance/ 3,000 yen at the door
*Children under 6 years old are not allowed. The ticket sale will start on September 2nd.

Conceptualized, directed and performed by Takao Kawaguchi
Original choreography: Tatsumi Hjijikata and Kazuo Ohno
Dramaturg, Sound and Visual: Naoto Iina
Lighting Design: Toshio Mizohata
Costume: Noriko Kitamura

Organized by NPO Dance Archive Network
Co-organized by Saitama Arts Foundation, Canta Co.Ltd
Cooperated by Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio, Morugu Sha
Supported by Japan Arts Council

Related Program

■Exhibition “Modern Dance to Butoh : from Kazuo Ohno Arhive”

The exhibition will show materials belong to Kazuo Ohno Archive, including photos, posters and Kazuo’s creative notes. From Kazuo’s modern dance piece “The Old Man and Sea (1959),” the music (digital master version from the open reel tape) and Kazuo’s letter to Hemingway will be specially exhibited for the first time.

Friday, November 3rd thru Sunday, December 3rd, 2017. 9:00-22:00 (closed on 6, 13, and 27 November)
Opening Party: November 3rd, 2017. 17:30-18:30
Venue: Sainokuni Saitama Arts Theater
Admission free

■Screening of Kazuo’s film

“The Portrait of Mr.O (1969)” and “Admiring La Argentina (1977)” will be screened. Both are the inspirational source for Takao Kawaguchi’s “About Kazuo Ohno” and important footages in the 20th century dance history.

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017. 13:00-14:10 “The Portrait of Mr.O” (1969)
Sunday, December 3rd, 2017. 13:00-14:10 “Admiring La Argentina” (1977)
Venue: Sainokuni Saitama Arts Theater
Admission free with the performance ticket of “About Kazuo Ohno.” Both film can be watched with one ticket.

AUG.28.2017 Theater Institute

SEP.05.2017 workshop Manggua Museum
SEP.06.2017 performance Manggua Museum



How can something as fleeting as dance be archived and passed on? How can it be saved from oblivion? And how is it changed in this process of being passed on? Takao Kawaguchi – a fearless performance artist, a shape-shifter of the body and the mind – literally copies the dances of an icon, focusing on video recordings of renowned butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno, who helped to revolutionise dance and founded butoh in the wake of the Second World War. What emerges is a tense, exciting dialogue of two artists between presence and absence, contemporary trash and traditional wisdom.

ImPulsTanz - Vienna International Dance Festival
AUG. 10+12. 2017


Er war die Kirschblüte des japanischen Butoh, ein Poet und Lyriker, der den „Tanz der Finsternis“ in einem träumerischen Licht erscheinen ließ: Kazuo Ohno, der noch bis zu seinem 100. Lebensjahr getanzt hat. Mit diesem Licht spielt Takao Kawaguchi, ehemaliges Mitglied des Künstlerkollektivs Dumb Type, und hat dafür ganz eigene, von Videos abgeleitete Versionen der wichtigsten Ohno-Tänze zu einem queeren, kontroversiellen Abend zusammengestellt: Admiring La Argentina zum Beispiel, oder My Mother und Dead Sea. Ein Solo als, wie Kawaguchi sagt, „a duet I dance with the illusory image of Kazuo Ohno“.

Festival Internacional de Danza Butoh en América Latina. Cuerpos en Revuelta
MAY. 20. 2017


un desierto para la danza
APR. 24. 2017
Venue : Teatro de la Ciudad de Casa de la Cultura de Sonora


Nunca vi a Kazuo Ohno bailar en el escenario cuando estaba vivo. Ahora lo veo en fotografías y videos. Es siempre hermoso, y aunque no puedo explicarlo bien, siento una cierta afinidad por los cambios y ondulaciones de sus movimientos; hasta lo siento sensual. ¿Será que dentro de mí hay una cualidad en la que nos parecemos?

photo bozzoAUSTRALIA
FEB. 25 - 26. 2017
Venue : Sylvia Staehli Theatre, Dancehouse


photo bozzoSPAIN


Concept and performance: Takao Kawaguchi | Choreography: Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata | Dramaturge / Video / Sound: Naoto Iina | Costumes: Noriko Kitamura | Lighting / Stage Director: Toshio Mizohata | Appearance in Video: Yoshiko Ohno | Archive materials courtesy of Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio, and CANTA Ltd. | Production management: Toshio Mizohata.

photo Takuya MatsumiFRANCE
Centre Chorégraphique National de Caen en Normandie
JAN 4 - 5 . 2017
théâtre de Caen


US Tour 2016

Japan Society
Fri,Sept 16-17, 7:30 pm >> MORE

Second Ward Foundation
Sat,Sep 24, 7:00 pm >> MORE

flynn center
Sep 27, 8:00 pm >> MORE

the University of Iowa
Fri,Sep 30, 8:00pm >> MORE

UMass Amherst
Wed,Oct 5, 7:30pm >> MORE

Fri,Oct 7-9 >> MORE

The Andy Warhol Museum
Thu,Oct 13, 8:00pm >> MORE


- Venue: Teater Jakarta
- Performance date: Monday, 15 August 2016

- Venue: Jogja National Museum
- Performance date: Thursday, 18 August 2016

Concept and performance: Takao Kawaguchi, Choreography: Kazuo Ohno and Tatsumi Hijikata , Dramaturge / Video / Sound: Naoto Iina , Costumes : Noriko Kitamura, Lighting / Stage Director: Toshio Mizohata, Appearance in Video: Yoshiko Ohno , Archive materials courtesy of Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio, and CANTA Ltd. , Production management : Toshio Mizohata , Rehearsal assistants: Atsuko Yoshifuku, Tomomi Tanabe and Tomoyo Okada , Supported by The Saison Foundation

EU TOUR 2016

photo Takuya MatsumiBRUSSELS (Belgium)
Date and time: 14 to 19 May, 20:30hrs. (16 May, 22:00hrs.)
Venue: Dynastiegebouw / Bâtiment Dynastie

BILBAO (Spain)
Alhóndiga Bilbao
Date & time: 21 May, 20:00hrs.
Venue: Azkuna Zentroa Auditorio

LISBOA (Portugal)
Alkantara Festival
Date & time: 1 June, 21hr. & 2 June, 19hrs.
Venue: São Luiz Teatro Municipal

Concept / Dance: Takao Kawaguchi , Choreograph : Kazuo Ohno Tatsumi Hijikata , Dramaturg / video : Naoto Iina , Costumes : Noriko Kitamura , Lighting : Nami Nakayama , Sound Technical : Noriaki Coda , Appearance in Video : Yoshiko Ohno , Archive materials courtesy of : Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio, CANTA Ltd , In cooperation with The Saison Foundation, Tokyo Zokei University CS-Lab , Supported by Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)
poster photo : Takuya Matsui , poster design : Naoto Iina

Artist Statement

I never watched Kazuo Ohno dance on stage, not while he was alive. But now I see him in photographs and videos. It’s always very beautiful, and though I cannot explain it well, I feel a certain affinity for the twists and undulations of his movements. It even feels sensual. Maybe I have a similar quality within me?

A star in the modern dance scene in Japan’s post-war era, Kazuo Ohno performed a number of very unique dance works. When he encountered Tatsumi Hijikata, the chemical reaction between the two gave birth to butoh dance. In the ten years following Ohno’s retirement from the stage, he made The Portrait of Mr. O and two other films with director Chiaki Nagano. In 1977, at the age of 72, Ohno made the spectacular comeback to the scene with “Admiring La Argentina”. From then on he went around the world performing and helping the rest of the world discover butoh. He remained active dancing until he passed away in 2010 at the age of 103. Hijikata described Ohno as “dancer of deadly poison, capable of striking with just a spoonful” while others have described his work as a “dance of soul.”

In this performance entitled “About Kazuo Ohno” which has caused a controversy within Tokyo’s dance establishment, I set myself the task of literally “copying” the dance of the butoh master from video recordings of the premiere performances of Ohno’s early masterpieces including “Admiring La Argentina” (1977), “My Mother” (1981), and “Dead Sea, Ghost, Wienerwaltz” (1985).

Usually characterized as largely improvisational, Ohno’s dance is unique not only for his age but also for the distinctive features of his body and movements which are essential to his dance. An attempt to copy his dance as it is, no more no less, means nothing but to suspend whatever interpretation the copier may have as well as his own beliefs, and to project himself onto the forms and shapes of the old dancer as exactly as possible. The closer it gets, however, the clearer the gap becomes, minimum but inevitable no matter how hard he tries to diminish it. The paradox here is that this very gap, nonetheless, highlights the very distinct characteristics of the copier. Copy is original.

The viewer layers the reminiscence of Kazuo Ohno onto my body, and those who don’t know Ohno’s dance, their imagination of it. The multiple images of Ohno and myself merge, surface and recede in turn. “About Kazuo Ohno” is, in a sense, a duet I dance with the illusory image of Kazuo Ohno.

For a better understanding of the piece,

The soundtracks for the dances are from the original video recordings of Kazuo Ohno’s premier performances of the respective show.

During the decade proceeding the premier of Admiring La Argentina, Kazuo Ohno collaborated with the Japanese avanguard filmmaker Chiaki Nagano to create three 16mm films the first of which is entitled The Portrait of Mr. O (1969), followed by The Mandala of Mr. O (1972) and The Book of the Dead of Mr. O (1985). It is said that during this period Kazuo Ohno was searching for his own style of Butoh. The opening scene of Kawaguchi’s performance has been inspired by the concept of the films and what they represent in regards to his career rather than Ohno’s actual acting in the films.

In the video scene of this piece, the hand puppet of Kazuo Ohno is manipulated by his son Yoshito Ohno. It was recorded at Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio, located in Yokohama, japan.

Scene titles of About Kazuo Ohno are:

0- The Portrait o Mr. O (1969)
1- Death and Birth, from Admiring La Argentina (1971)
2- The Fetus’ Dream, from My Mother (1981)
3- The Gipsy Baron’s March, from Dead Sea, Winner Walzer, and Ghosts (1985)
4- The Episode of the Creation of Heaven and Earth, from Dead Sea, Winner Walzer, and Ghosts (1985)
5- Dream of Love, from My Mother (1981)
6- Puppet (video)
- intermission -
7- Daily Bread, from Admiring La Argentina (1971)
8- The Marriage of Heaven and Earth, from rom Admiring La Argentina (1971)
9- Tango - Flower, from Admiring La Argentina (1971)
10- Tango - Bird, from Admiring La Argentina (1971)
11- Chopin, from My Mother (1981)

photo bozzo

Why Butoh? Why Kazuo Ohno?

I have never learned butoh before. I didn’t get a chance to watch Tasumi Hijikata or even Kazuo Ohno on stage before they died. Rather, across the many years of my career, I’ve dedicated myself to creating stage performance pieces in fields closer to what’s called “media arts” or “performance theater.” Perhaps my aspirations to work freely across many genres are what pushed me in that direction. My focus has always been on the relationship between my self and space outside. In 2012, I had an opportunity to develop a piece based on the texts of Tatsumi Hijikata, Yameru Maihime (La Danseuse Malade / The Ailing Dance Mistress). This was my first contact with butoh, but my approach was still extroverted. But, I’ve reached a point now where any movement forward requires my stepping into the real of the interior, into the relationship between the mind and the body. This is what has made me want to get in touch with and look into butoh, especially what they call the Kazuo Ohno’s “dance of soul.”

Butoh now or never !

It is over half a century since butoh was born through the encounter between Tasumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno across the 1950s and ‘60s. Today this form of dance art has spread throughout the world, influencing and inspiring many artists in butoh and beyond. It seems the genre is regaining attention in the international contemporary dance scene at the moment, with choreographers such as Boris Charmatz and Xavier Le Roy—just to name a few—creating works inspired by and/or with reference to the butoh. Now, however, with the death of both Hjikata (1986) and Ohno (2010), the original form of the art cannot be witnessed any more, and those who have direct experience of the form are fewer and fewer. Young people, especially, cannot have had that kind of direct experience. Now or never, I thought, if I want to inherit the rich, fertile ground of body exploration that Hijikata and Ohno left to us.

Butoh BIG BANG – Encounter and exchange between Hijikata and Ohno

In 1977 after a decade of silence, Kazuo Ohno re-debuts in the dance scene at the age of 72 with La Argentina Sho (Admiring La Argentine), followed by two more masterpieces: My Mother (1981) and Dead Sea, Ghost and Winnerwaltz (1985). The one who directs Ohno’s shows is none but Tatsumi Hijikata. A fertile ground is born where two opposite currents meet, that’s where those masterpieces were created, and from there Ohno sets off to the international scene and tours around the world until he dies in 2010 at the age of 103. It was there in those works, I believe, where butoh reached a point of completion of its original form, in a sense. Of course, butoh, in the hands of Ohno’s and Hikikata’s many followers, keeps growing and developing in many different directions. Soon after this re-encounter between Ohno and Hikikata, the latter dies, and this collaboration between the two butoh masters comes to an end. Yet, it is precisely this fertile ground of butoh to which I return—to engage in the heretical act of copying.

Copying Kazuo’s dance from the video

My approach was to literally copy Ohno’s dance from the video recordings of the premiere performances of his three masterpieces. In copying from video recordings that are themselves copies—or perhaps even copies of copies of copies, I work in direct violation of what the Master meant when he said “if there is the heart, the form will follow.” Despite the fact that Ohno’s inner world (his soul, emotions, heart) is what has been considered essential and integral to his expression of dance, to Ohno’s “dance of soul,” I marginalize such subjectivity to embrace the abject copy. Also rejecting the traditional concept of “kata” or ideal form in Japanese traditional aesthetics, I focus instead on the very tangible forms on the video screen, and wear them as if putting an armor or a costume on my body. Putting it in another way, I fit my body into such forms like pouring hot iron into the mold. As heretic, I challenge Kazuo Ohno on the outside, from the outside.

Butoh is about Becoming

If Butoh, as Hijikata says, is about “becoming” something other than yourself (in this case, it is to become Kazuo Ohno), first of all, in order to “become” something, one ought to empty one’s self. In the process of rehearsing, I thought: Without ridding of my “self” and offering my body as an empty vessel for “it” to come and inhabit within, I won’t be able to become “it”. I can do nothing else but persist loyally copying/building the form/vessel, and wait for Ohno to inhabit my body. It will be only then and there that we might be possibly be open to perceive the electro-magnetic waves coming from the universe of the now-defunct Butoh guru, Kazuo Ohno.

I’ve copied from:

The Portrait of Mr. O, (a 1969 film by Chiaki Nagano)
La Argentina Sho (Admiring La Argentina) (1977): “La Divine” and “The Food of Everyday Life” scenes
My Mother (1981), the scenes of “The Dreams of the Foetus”, “Dream of
Love”, and the scene of two tangos and the piano of Frederic Chopin
Dead Sea, Ghost, Wiennerwaltz (performed in 1985 in Geneva), scenes of “The Ghost” and the Mass

Cast and Staff

Choreography: Kazuo Ohno and Tastumi Hijikata
Dance: Takao Kawaguchi
Dramaturge, Visual and Sound: Naoto Iina
Costumes: Kitamura Noriko
Lighting: Toshio Mizohata
Appearance in Video: Yoshito Ohno
Archive materials courtesy of Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio and Dance Archive Network
Production management : Toshio Mizohata

Duration: Approx. 110 mins with an intermission
This performance premiered in August 2013 at the Dance ga Mitai! Festival, d-Warehouse, Tokyo, and then staged again in October 2013 at Kazuo Ohno Festival, BankART Studio, Yokohama.

photo iina naoto


dancer / performer
Takao Kawaguchi

While joining the Japanese multimedia performance company Dumb Type from 1996 to 2008, 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– based on the texts of Tatsumi Hijikata (2012), and About Kazuo Ohno – Reliving the Butoh Diva’s Masterpieces (2013).
Kawaguchi has participated in a number of collaboration 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 (Hong Kong) and Koichi Imaizumi.
Besides, Kawaguchi was the director of the Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival from 1996 to 1999; translated British experimental filmmaker Derek Jarman’s book Chroma into Japanese (2003, Uplink); and starred in Edmund Yeo’s short film Kingyo which was invited to Venice Film Festival in 2009.

WEB http://www.kawaguchitakao.com/

dramaturge / video / sound
Naoto Iina

Director, video artist. Aiming at linking the performing arts and media arts, Iina has established Dance and Media Japan to produce many projects combining media technology with dance inviting artists from overseas such as Mamuska art party from Ireland, the International Dance Film Festival, and the Post Theater from Germany among others. Iina’s work covers a wide range from video artist to theater director, dramatug and producer. As video artist, he has worked for The Spirit Play and King Lear, both directed by Sato Makoto, and Kawguchi Takao’s a perfect life, and as dramaturge for Kawaguchi’s About Kazuo Ohno. He has directed ASYL combining film, music and dance starring Nishimatsu Fuei and Terada Misako; and Shinobazu no Onna <Hidden Woman> starring Nishimatsu and Ohno Yoshito, among many others. Recently Iina has developed Kazuo Ohno Internet Video Archive.

WEB http://dance-media.com/iina/

producer / lighting design
Toshio Mizohata

Born in Tokyo. Since 1983 worked with Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio for all of Kazuo Ohno and Yoshito Ohno's major productions as administrator and lighting designer and toured worldwide. In the 1990s started to run Kazuo Ohno Archive and published numerous books and videos on his works including Workshops' Words (1997 Film Art Sha), and organized the historic concerts, Homage to Kazuo Ohno, marking his centenary in 2007 in Yokohama as well as Antony and the Ohnos, a collaborative performance of Anohni and Yoshito Ohno in 2010 in Tokyo. In 2004 joined in BankART1929 as a founding member to run the alternative space project in Yokohama where the Kazuo Ohno Festivals and Dance Archive Project happened until 2016. In 2017 initiated a non profit organization, Dance Archive Network for the purpose of promoting the first contemporary dance archive in Japan and networking the different archives internationally.

WEB http://www.kazuoohnodancestudio.com/english/



Toshio Mizohata

Takao Kawaguchi