Kazuo Ohno in An offering to Heaven

22 Jan

Two years ago, I travelled to Japan for the first time and fell in love with this country. Not only for its beauty, but also because of the incredible inspiration you sense everywhere around. During my stay in Tokyo, I went to the Mori Art Museum and in the museum shop I found a dvd that triggered me. The pictures on the cover are mystique and somehow I felt, I needed to buy it. Later, back home, I googled the dvd (I couldn’t read the Japanese text on the cover) and it is called: An Offering To Heaven. The two documentaries (2 discs) are such an inspiration!

The main person in the two documentaries is Kazuo Ohno, one of the most famous dancers of Japan and inspirator/developer of the dance style butoh, a dance with very slow movements. He studied athletics at university, started working as a sport-teacher and kept on teaching till he was 86 years old. After he saw a performance of Spanish dancer La Argentina in 1926, he also started studying modern dance. In 1949 Ohno opened his first dance studio and worked together with Tatsumi Hijikata,with whom he developed the butoh dance style. In 1977 Ohno travelled the world, performing solo ‘La Argentina Sho’,a butoh classic.

He stayed devoted to dance, even in his late nineties. Although he could no longer dance with his legs, he kept on dancing with his upper body, sitting on a chair or supported by an assistant. The first dvd ‘Flower’ contains footage of Ohno’s last performance in 2001 (he was 95 years old). A most touching performance

On the second disc a documentary filmed in 2002, based around the life and work as  Ikebana master (Japanese art in flower arrangements)  Yukio Nakagawa, like Ohno a genius in his art, who devoted his life to flowers. Being kindred spirits, Ohno and Nakagawa collaborated numerous times. Both man were outsiders in their art and only in their later years did they get recognition. When, in the documentary, both men met again at a performance of Ohno, it’s moving to see the geniuses meet and feel so humble in each others presence…

Their last collaboration is a breathtaking performance in open air in  May 2002 on the Shinano riverbed, where Nakagawa builds a dream with millions of multi-coloured tulips, thrown out of a helicopter, as the wheelchair bound Ohno dances under the swirling shower of petals in the rain…

 

When I bought the album ‘The Crying Light’ by Antony and the Johnsons, I did not only love the music, but also the black&white picture on the cover. Later, when I was preparing for this post, I dicovered it’s a portrait of Kazuo Ohno on the cover of the album. Anhony Hegarty (singer-songwriter of Antony and the Johnsons) says Kazuo Ohno is his largest source of inspiration in  life and work. Spring 2010, a few months before Ohno died, Hegarty visited Ohno and his son Yoshito, a master dancer too, in their studio and gave a concert in Tokyo in honor of Kazuo Ohno, in collaboration with Yoshito…

 ‘An Offering To Heaven’ inspires me very much!!!  You can order it at:  www.kazuoohnodancestudio.com

3 Responses to “Kazuo Ohno in An offering to Heaven”

  1. Soul Safari 23 January 2012 at 11:51 #

    you are never too old to learn and be inspired.

    Thank you for this fantastic post. Continue to inspire….

  2. A.G.Nauta couture 9 February 2012 at 11:00 #

    Dear Netty Nauta,

    Thank you so much!
    It should be a help!

    Best wishes,

    Toshio Mizohata
    General Secretary
    Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio
    5-11-19 Minamishinagawa,
    Shinagawa, Tokyo
    140-0004
    Phone/Fax 81-(0)3-3450-6507

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