New York

Kodō

City Center

Severe disciplines serving mystical visions; exotic instruments, costumes, and techniques; unusual staging contexts—these are what Western audiences have been conditioned to expect from the Eastern performing arts for years. And then there’s the “authenticity” factor, which charms contemporary audiences into suspending the usually modern filters—i.e., irony, detachment, etc.—when they witness performances that fit no Western categories. In the 1930s, Antonin Artaud was outlining ideas for the performance of the future based on his search for “the real,” a theoretical leap that led him to declare Oriental dance, music, and theater superior to an atrophied Western theater. His reason? He found them somehow more authentic because of the inherent surrealism of their strangeness.

Kodō, the 30-member troupe of drummers known as “the heartbeat drummers of Japan,” has turned these assumptions

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