prepared me for what I witnessed on the fourth day of The Park’s The Other
Festival. The experience was, no doubt, so intensely subjective that I
hesitate now to generalize it and deliberately use the “I.” Denise Fujiwara,
in her solo Butoh presentation of “Sumida River,” had a certain effect
on my heart that can only be likened to some internal vacuum suction (how
prosaic!). At the end of it all, I felt nullified and anything but able
to verbalize the experience. Afraid that it all sounds like a negative
experience, I hasten to add that it was not. The tragedy initially made
one heavy and then gradually emptied itself and left one at peace.
mother removes her beautiful black hat and holds it to her side and there
it is for you to see- her child! The child, the loss of whom has pushed
her to the brink of sanity and then pushed her further.
snatched the words from my mouth (or rather my pen) and explained how there
is very little of “dance” - as the word is normally understood - in Butoh.
But even the sitting, standing, crouching and gliding were done with such
internalized energy that the result was an absolute concentration and tightness.
Each step and each small flick of the arm had drama in them.
handles the willow branches as if they were the memories of something long
gone. Holds them, caresses them, drops them, picks them up again, struggles
to catch the other end while holding one, as though the other end is very
far away; as though at the other end is what she is seeking; what she has
lost. Is that the glow of motherly love on her face and her limbs, the
concentrated essence of vatsalya, as she slips into reminiscences
and relives some cherished moments with her child!
not “expressing” something. She was most certainly doing something else
that is beyond my poor critical vocabulary to explicate.
turnout was quite good, I felt sorry for the thousands of Chennai dancers
who had missed out on something rare and precious.
Vasudevan is a Bharatanatyam dancer based in Chennai.