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PROFILE of TOMOE SHIZUNE and HAKUTOBO

  TOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO was formed in 1987. In her appraisal of SHUMU, its invited work at the 1988 Toga Festival, Hasegawa Roku, in an issue of Shingeki (New Theater), gave this high praise: gI was completely satisfied. . . . This work has a clear framework and a solid structure. And the Butoh dancers were amazingly proficient.h

  Tachiki Akiko, in her review of Hifu uchu no Magudara (alternate title: The Story of a Tree) that performed Toga Festival at 1989 in Theater Arts, praised its innovative nature, saying, gThis Butoh performance, by means of two trees, expresses the life cycle?the birth, death, and revival?of all living things. . . . In this tender performance, the drama of two living things burning through life touches the soul. . . . I feel that I am witnessing the birth of a Butoh that follows in the tradition of Hijikata Tatsumi, but that TOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO make more universal.h

  The reviewer of a 1990 performance of RENYO (Far from the Lotus) at the Matsumoto Theater Festival lauded Butoh in these words of high praise: gWhat is that familiar feeling arising from the stage? . . . This performance can be called the origin of identity. . . . The performance rises high above the level of ordinary stale contemporary theater and has demonstrated its originality and legitimacy.h

  About a 1994 performance at the Joyce Theater in New York, The New York Times raved, gTOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO [has] a lengthy name, but one that both acknowledges its past and suggests that, under his direction, it will continue to go its own creative way.h And The Village Voice exclaimed, gIfve come to believe that Butohfs wallop comes from the fact that it is both foreign, or eother,f and universal,h overturning the formerly held view of Butoh in the West.

  The company has been invited to and has also participated in many domestic and foreign theater festivals, including the Adelaide Festival (1994), the Edinburgh International Festival (1996), and the Biennale Musiques en Scene (2002), a multimedia performance presented in Tokyo and Lyon together with LfAssociation a la Recherche dfun Folklore Imaginaire, a jazz group resident in France.

  TOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO has also worked in various genres and collaborated with numerous artists, in both Japan and abroad. In addition to working in such genres as jazz, classical music, traditional Japanese music, and contemporary music, it has collaborated with the photographers Ina Eiji (the photography exhibit Sanko) and Araki Nobuyoshi (the magazine Shashin jidai [The Age of Photography]), with the Japanese contemporary artist Kobayashi Kenji, and with the Korean contemporary artist Yook Keun Byung. And it has made guest appearances with hide (X Japan), one of Japanfs foremost rock musicians, from his solo debut at Tokyo Dome to his death. The company has also given volunteer performances and training sessions at welfare facilities for the elderly, schools for the deaf, welfare offices, and elementary schools.

  In 2009 it contributed the article gThe Face of Butohh to the Journal of the Japanese Academy of Facial Studies. This article was developed into the performance piece of the same name for the 2016 JFACE Conference, held at Tokyo University of the Arts.
In 2010 it contributed the article gThe Forefront of Body Communicationh to the Journal of the Japan Association for Communication, Information, and Society, and for this association, it presented the lecture gThe Experience of Ultimate Body Communication.h

  In 2016 invited to the body expression research program "BodyCostitution" in Wrocław, European Capital of Culture Poland. In 2017, it was made the collaborative works "Kitan" by poetry reading, Gagaku and Butoh. Butoh workshop and performances were co-organized by Rooftop Theatre Group and TOMOE SHIZUNE &HAKUTOBO in Cyprus. These projects are brought up continuously. In 2021, the collaboration work of Eva-Maria Houben (piano) and Kagaya Sanae (butoh) was performed at "KLANGRAUM" (Germany), which was organized by the Wandelweiser of Contemporary Music, and continues to develop new works.
In 2017 the company published the DVD Renyo-Sho (A Selection from Far from the Lotus). In 2020, released two DVDs: THE STORY OF A TREE A Marvel of Body Art on The Stage, The World of TOMOE SHIZUNE, and The Body - The Expression of a Creaturefs True Nature, TOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO, Music & Butoh


PROFILE of TOMOE SHIZUNE

    Butoh dancer, choreographer, director, Art director, guitarist, composer, and president of the Butoh company TOMOE SHIZUNE & HAKUTOBO.
  TOMOE SHIZUNE began his career as a musician in 1972 and has created a number of masterpieces.
  “A rarely seen artist who in various genres pursues a wide range that can abruptly change from the melodious to the destructive, and that continually changes so as to transcend any sort of systematic style” (Jazu hihyo shi [Jazz Criticism], 1986).
  The magazine Latina said, “His performances pose a bold, earnest, fundamental question for music: What can music accomplish? He struggles to expand the realm of sound creating subdued chaos. We were amazed at his technique.” Ogawa Takao, in Swing Journal, wrote, “I got the impression that in addition to being a fine performer, [Tomoe Shizune] displayed superior talent in composing the music as a whole. . . . Skill in composition makes a work appeal more to the listener. In his compositions, he frequently uses guitar arpeggios and scales familiar from traditional Japanese music, thus creating a unique place for himself as a guitarist. In addition, the fast tempo with which he plays the guitar is truly striking.” He has been extolled in many musical genres ranging from classic and jazz to folk music.
  In 1984 TOMOE SHIZUNE began his study under Hijikata Tatsumi. He is the only successor to carry on the Butoh tradition of Hijikata Tatsumi. By trying out detailed changes to produce varied, large-scale performances, he fundamentally transformed Butoh techniques, which he compiled as the unique TOMOE Butoh Method. “For showing us what Butoh is, TOMOE SHIZUNE occupies the role of the North Star,” said the Butoh artist Ono Yoshito, and he was given calligraphy that reads “The art and people of dance: Hijikata Tatsumi, Ono Kazuo, TOMOE SHIZUNE,” thus ranking him among the great Butoh choreographers.
  In 1989 he received the First Ikebukuro Play Festival Grand Prize Award for A Woman Nestled in the Wind, a series of collaborations between Butoh dancers and musicians. From 1990 to 1995 he choreographed Butoh performance of Madame Butterfly at the Opera National de Lyon. In 1991 he choreographed Butoh performance of the opera Magic Flute of NHK. In 2007 Zhu Wen Elopes with the Ghost, a work produced under his direction by Gang-a-Tsui Theater, a traditional Taiwanese stage performance group, won the Grand Prize of the Taishin Arts Awards in the field of the Performing Arts. And in 2010 this work was invited to the Festival de l’Imaginaire at the Opera Bastille, the national opera house in Paris, and it was performed to public acclaim. In 2020, it was performed at the Taiwan Traditional Theatre Festival (screened online due to the spread of COVID-19 infection).
  In 2012, in collaboration with the Korean contemporary artist Yook Keun Byung, he published the art-music DVD Landscape on the Way to Sleep.
  About this work, the Korean magazine Jazz People wrote, “TOMOE, in a conversation with Yook Keun Byung, mentioned the Buddhist concept of perceiving the universe in one thought (“Ichinen sanzen”). Just so, the sound that these artists produced then seemed like it captured the world in a brief moment, for though it was brief, it was pregnant with meaning.”
  The Korean magazine Top Class wrote, “The Korean legendary percussionist Kim Dae Hwan and the trailblazing improvisational jazz bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa teamed up with TOMOE SHIZUNE to perform in a meeting of Korean and Japanese artists. In the improvised performance of this evening, these three artists worked together to produce music overflowing with authenticity.”
Acoustic Guitar Magazine wrote, “The improvised performance of TOMOE and the splendid scenery of Korea combine to express a vivid artistic world. These two elements together had a tremendous impact.”
  The Korean magazine Incubator wrote, “Landscape on the Way to Sleep embodies the two elements necessary in the performing arts: human conflict and harmony. This work, through the tension in its Butoh dancing and its improvised music, asks of the audience and performers the true principles of our existence.”
  In 2018 TOMOE SHIZUNE and company published the gagaku (court music) CD Water Beads on the Lotus Leaves (music composed by TOMOE SHIZUNE; performed by the gagaku group Chitose Trio). About this work, Sakuramachi Yoh, in the poetry magazine Kujaku sen, wrote, “I even wondered if eternity exists in this moment. . . . I hope that you can discover in this music and Butoh dancing the root of liberated thought, unattached to particular concerns.”
 
 

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