new york

Can We Dance a Landscape?

brooklyn academy of music

The brand of Japanese dance-theater called butoh has typically been performed on an empty stage, a dark void penetrated only by noirish light that underlines the metaphoric idea of earth as a nightmarish environment. For Peut-on Danser le Paysage? (Can we dance a landscape?, 1989) performed by Min Tanaka and his butoh group Maijuku, Karel Appel created a visible context of hellish surroundings in the form of several backdrops and a few drop-in flats. With large-scale, slashing brushstrokes and blunt, blaring colors, Appel’s quasi-abstract hilly landscapes were an appropriate visual realization of butoh’s usually implied setting. Moreover, in a sidelong reference to the theatricality of action painting, Appel’s scenery was presented as an exceedingly active participant in the performance. Colors shifted constantly under the changing lighting. One Day-Glo Dufyesque seascape went from fiery

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