26/02/2015 - 28/02/2015
A blindfolded Bride collapsed on the floor. A disheveled Groom slumped his chair. This is not the tale of the perfect wedding night. 7 Generations, a three act play without words, takes the audience on a journey of revelation and healing.
The latest production from With Lime, the only resident Butoh company in Aotearoa New Zealand, brings the surreal, thought-provoking and otherworldly presence of Butoh along with stunning visuals and a haunting soundscape to the 2015 Wellington Fringe Festival. 7 Generations, a solo performance by international Butoh performer Miki Seifert, will be presented at the Whitireia Theatre, 26, 27 and 28 February.
U.S. artists turned Wellingtonians, Miki Seifert and William Franco are the impetus behind the founding of With Lime in 2007. Seifert and Franco are dedicated to expanding the recognition and appreciation of Butoh within Aotearoa New Zealand. Though started in Japan, Butoh has spread around the world.
The Butoh dancer carves an incredibly potent space between themselves and their audience. Drawing on the worlds of the unconscious, dreams and the irrational, Butoh leaves space for the audience to bring their own thoughts and dreams to the work, offering a rich, metaphorical world to taste and to enter.
Memory is usually thought of as simply a static recording of events that can be retrieved when called upon. But is it? For the Bride in 7 Generations, unbidden memories come flooding in. How can she keep from drowning in them?
“There’s a quote by the American writer Toni Morrison that I love. She talks about how the flooding of rivers is remembering where they used to be. I think this applies to my character of the Bride. For her, remembering is also a way of reclaiming what was taken from her,” says Seifert.
William Franco, who is the Production Designer, explains, “Our approach to creating a performance draws heavily on our training and experience as installation artists and video creators for over 25 years. Our performances transform space through the presence of their bodies, through atmospheric soundscapes, and through projected moving images.”
Seifert and Franco have been refining the seamless integration of technology and physical beingness since 2001 when they won an award for their integration of technology into a traditional altar for the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead.
7 Generations will use a multi-display software that orchestrates stills, animations, graphics, video and sound across multiple display areas. Images will be able to travel through space and be targeted on a single object, such as a wedding dress. The intricately textured video underscores and elucidates the Bride’s internal journey.
7 Generations builds upon With Lime’s 2009 work, He rawe tona kakahu/She wore a becoming dress, which was presented at the Film Archive to sold-out audiences. The performance was a multi-layered event that interwove Butoh dance, stunningly grotesque fashions and gender role commentary. The theatre was skilfully transformed into a high-end fashion catwalk with five video projections and a live DJ mix for each performance.
Since then, they created and performed Museum Piece for DANZ’s Global Dance Celebration; performed in Native American performance artist James Luna’s Urban (Almost) Ritual and Bert van Dijk’s Ex-Isle of Strangers on Matiu Island; and created several video installations around Wellington.
WHAT: 7 Generations, a three act Butoh play
WHEN: 26-28 February 2015, 8pm
WHERE: Whitireia Theatre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Te Aro, Wellington
TICKETS: $20/15 concession – available at www.fringe.co.nz
WHO: choreographer & performer – Miki Seifert; director & production designer – William Franco; and original score – Peter Girard
26 – 28 Feb, 8:00pm
Concession $15.00 / Full $20.00
choreographer & performer - Miki Seifert
director & production designer - William Franco
original score - Peter Girard
lighting operator – Darrell Haddon
sound operator – Fern Karum
dresser – Atawhai Buurman
documentation – Craig Thomson
front of house - Whitireia Theatre
7 Generations is sponsored by Wellington City Council’s Arts and Culture Fund, Creative New Zealand’s Quick Response Fund and AVServices of Wellington.
Dance-theatre , Butoh ,
Dancing with our demons
Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 04th Mar 2015
Butoh is a form of dance theatre developed in Japan after WWII. It also encompasses installations and audiovisual projections and often canvasses taboo subjects using grotesque imagery within extreme environments.
All of this is very evident in the production of 7 Generations from With Lime, the only resident Butoh company in NZ.
Confronting ones demons is a recurring image, and although not overly obvious, by the numerous support groups given credit in the programme, sexual abuse is also a major factor affecting the main and only character played by Miki Seifert, who is also choreographer of the piece.
Divided into three acts, the hour long show starts with ‘Flooding’ where Seifert, blindfolded and wearing a wedding dress, slowly sinks within herself as images of a raging flood are projected across the back wall with a man lounging in an arm chair.
The second act is ‘Down the rabbit hole’, again effectively using words project around the stage with Seifert writhing in the middle.
The final act is ‘Ode to bad dog George’ which has piles of suitcases strewn around the stage which Seifert lovely caresses as images of a man are projected onto them.
All the pieces are danced exquisitely by Seifert to an original score by Peter Girard, but while the unpredictability of each act is fascinating and the production would have resonated with many who watched it, for others, the gentle and relaxing atmosphere created by the production would be somewhat too soporific.
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To be savoured
Review by Jillian Davey 27th Feb 2015
Butoh isn’t for everyone. The movement art form originated from a place of suffering (post-WWII Japan) and attempts to bring that suffering to light. It presents personal or societal pain as an offering to its audience.
That being said, the subject matter of “7 Generations” will speak to a lot of people. At the post-performance talk we’re succinctly told by With Lime’s co-artistic directors, Miki Seifert and William Franco, that it’s about the journey a couple takes to create a deep, emotional relationship in the wake of one partner’s past sexual abuse. Interesting that a piece focused on a couple, (and it could be any couple) features only one live performer. Seifert is the only human on stage for the hour-long show, with Franco featuring briefly in video and projected photos. This alludes to the possibility that abuse in one’s past is a very personal journey, and a partner can be at a loss as to how to help or simply to understand the other’s past.
Butoh is a great carrier of this message. It is, by nature, vague and sometimes uncomfortable to witness. Miki Seifert’s performance brings utter beauty and strength to the piece. She commands the stage in a quiet way, neither overpowering nor fading into the projections behind her, on her, and around her. William Franco’s skill and experience with video installation (of the museum and gallery variety) is evident. And though there were a few opening-night hiccups with lighting and video, its effects weren’t lost, and was in fact beautifully paired with the live performance.
This is a rich and lush show, meant to be savoured and thought about long after you’ve left the theatre. If you’re happy to dwell on your own takings, leave before the post-performance talk. But it’s well worth the chance to hear directly from the artists about their background and their explanation of the piece. The audience is welcome to ask questions and the talk is facilitated by a councillor from a Wellington sexual abuse clinic.
It’s not the “fringiest” show in the Fringe (mostly meaning it’s not absurd, comical, or ironic in any way) but
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