More Butoh 舞踏

Following videos of Butoh 舞踏 performance, the postwar avant-garde Japanese form of the movement expression of life/death, dark/light, inexpressible expression of angst and pain and hope, mystery and disorder, normal/abnormal, deep and disfigured–that I posted earlier, the most famous Butoh performer Kazuo Ohno 大野一雄, left legacies of expression that are unequaled.

Modern western forms of dance and movement almost always developed and focused on aspects and expressions of western interpretations of “beauty.”  Butoh, on the other hand,  is perhaps the expression of angst, death, darkness, disfigurement, complexity, subtly and the in-between places of life/death.  It has its own “beauty” precisely because the “grotesque” and the “horrible” and “scary” are present, developed into form.

Butoh has expanded to a worldwide phenomenon.  It speaks particularly to audiences connected to recent war, violence and the questioning of life.  Below are further modern examples of present-day Butoh.

One of the most famous and well-known troupes from Japan that performs Butoh today, is the Sankai Juku group.  I have included two performances by them below, followed by others.

Sankai Juku: excerpts from ‘TOBARI’

Sankai Juku: Excerpts from: ‘KAGEMI’


Hisako Horirkawa and Min Tanaka: Excerpt from a performance in 1988 in Czechoslovakia


Brattelboro Butoh

Co-Production of  Compañía Cuerpo Transitorio (Barcelona, Spain) and La Compañía Slurp (Buenos Aires, Argentina) performing: “Penélope.”

She Who Fought Dictators with Her Voice: Mercedes Sosa and “Todo Cambia”

Mercedes Sosa (July 9, 1935 – October 4, 2009) can be remembered as one of the most memorable, famous, and great singers of the 20th century.   She was known as “La Negra” — the Black One, symbolizing the fact that she often sang for and with, giving voice to, those that are “darker,” and “blacker” –who are now expendable in a global structure, silenced and shunned.

She spent much of her life in prison, then had to live in exile from her homeland because of her leftist views.  She united many music aficionados across South America and in Europe by singing her native Argentinian folk songs as well as those of Cuba and Brazil, often singing of heartache. longing in their connection to loss, politics, and cultural survival.

Here, the video is one of my favorite songs by her: Todo Cambia, (Everything Changes).

I thank Nancho21 who uploaded this nice video on Youtube and I offer an edited version of the translation below the video.

What is superficial changes
What is profound also changes
The mind changes
Everything changes in this world.

The traveler changes his way
Even if this harms him
And just like everything changes
That I change is not strange

Change, everything changes
Change, everything changes

The sun changes its path
When the night prevails
The plants change and dress
in green in Spring

The beast changes its fur
The old man changes his hair
And just like everything changes
That I change is not strange

Change, everything changes
Change, everything changes

But my love does not change
Regardless of the distance
or the memory or the pain
Of my land and my people

What changed yesterday
Will have to change tomorrow
Just as I change
In this distant land

Everything changes
Everything changes
Everything changes
Everything changes

Video Trailer: ”Tokyo Ainu 東京アイヌ”

The Ainu people are a people who have inhabited the northern regions of Japan and what might be called Russia by some, as well as the areas now disputed, between Japan and Russia.  The Ainu are a caucasian group who were, as per the everyday norm of today’s most well-known nations, displaced and killed (physically, or culturally/spiritually) and assimilated (which to me, are all forms of killing in some way), what nations do to those who are different to create a “majority.”

This new documentary focuses on the Ainu people who are living in Japanese cities.  In this documentary, the focus is on those living in Tokyo.

Jake Shimabukuro, the Ukulele, and Beautiful Eclectic Music!

Jake Shimabukuro and his incredible ukulele playing!!

He first attracted attention in his homelands of Hawaii, in 1998.  From then, he has progressed to one of the world’s foremost “global” ukulele players.  His playing ranges from Hawaiian traditional ukulele tunes, to American folk music, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and rock.  Truly wonderful.  He is a fifth-generation Japanese-American.

LINK to his website here.

Ted Talks:  He performs a variety of tunes:

 

He performs Michael Jackson’s THRILLER on KFOG radio in the US in 2008.

 

SULTANA: Sings Turkish woman-rap, banned in 2000. Now back with a vengeance!

Turkish pop/rap star Sultana, was deemed “dangerous” by the Turkish government and the media in 2000 when her song Kusu Kalkmaz came out.  The Title means:  “Birds Can’t Fly”  — which is a euphemism for “Can’t Get It Up.”   The song suggests a failure in the men who leave their wife and family behind while they go out to clubs to search for women and prostitutes for elicit sex, hiding their impotence as men, not just sexual bodies.

When radio and television stations were told not to play her music or music videos or her performances in Turkey because of the song, Sultana was disgusted.  She is quoted to say that Turkey has a problem with freedom, that creativity means freedom and that Turkey’s “Thought Police” is ridiculous because it actually tries to control thought and that creativity will always resist control.  She moved to the United States at that point and continued to record some beautiful “woman-rap” songs in Turkish/English hybrid, mixing Turkish traditional instruments, modern rap and hip/hop sensibility and Europeanesque melodies.

LINK to a short article

 

Some words from her song:

‘Kuşu Kalkmaz’

I am a-kick it for my girl while you ask how
’cause people in the world are living so foul
I manifest a tune about this, aye:
‘Kuşu kalkmaz’ means: ‘your bird can’t fly’!
While wife and kids are locked up at home
And you are at the strip club
headed for the zone,
Brizzle and ice sucked up all your stones
And by the time you get back home
your baby done grown
‘Cause you were stuck at the spot
like a fool to rasclast
Trying to get at what the new girl got
Not conscious of the family
Not acting like a father
When you’ve seen her in the light
Man, that’s your daughter

Angela Aki: “The Letter” 手紙 : Hapa Sensation in Japan

The Song TEGAMI  手紙 (the Letter) was a huge sensation in Japan in 2007.

It was sung by Hapa White-Japanese singer Angela Aki, who sings in fluent Japanese and English in many of her recordings.  The song Tegami, thrust Angela Aki into the limelight for its poignant and almost all-encompassing power to bring school children of junior and senior high schools across Japan in communicating its all-too-familiar message to encourage strength through alienation, loneliness, bullying, and the compulsory examination systems through which tremendous pressures are thrusted into the lives of the Japanese youth for its capitalist machinery.  This song touched millions.  It was also a social change, social consciousness project connected to money-making as well, let us not be mistakenly naive or purist.

In listening to the lyrics and the melody and emotion, it is clear that this song is moving and touches upon something deeply engrained, resisted, endured, and made to become something the youth of Japan (and other countries) must fight against with body and mind, in order to become something our global system of dominance deems “adult.”

It was written to encourage young teenagers in Japan, suffering from the pressures of society in those school years.

Masami Goto, of Japan National Public Broadcasting System — NHK, has this to say about this song (in 2007):

This year is the 75th anniversary of the NHK Schools Chorus Contest. We asked a popular singer-song-writer, Angela Aki, to write a compulsory song called Tegami (Letter) for the junior high school division. The song is based on a letter Angela Aki wrote as a senior high school student to her future self. A related project called Tegami starts in May, in which we ask junior high school students to send in their thoughts on this song and related personal anecdotes. Angela Aki visits junior high schools and interviews the pupils for a documentary feature that will be shown on General TV at 10:00 p.m. on May 9 and again in September. We have asked Naoki Award winning non-fiction writer Eto Mori to write lyrics for the compulsory song in the elementary school division, and an another author, Hiroyuki Itsuki, to do the same for the senior high school division.


 LYRICS (courtesy of:meheartdancing.livejournal.com)
 

The Letter


Dear you,
Who’s reading this letter
Where are you and what are you doing now?

For me who’s 15 years old
There are seeds of worries I can’t tell anyone

If it’s a letter addressed to my future self,
Surely I can confide truly to myself

Now, it seems that I’m about to be defeated and cry
For someone who’s seemingly about to disappear
Whose words should I believe in?
This one-and-only heart has been broken so many times
In the midst of this pain, I live the present

Dear you,
Thank you
I have something to tell the 15-year-old you

If you continue asking what and where you should be going
You’ll be able to see the answer

The rough seas of youth may be tough
But row your boat of dreams on
Towards the shores of tomorrow

Now, please don’t be defeated and please don’t shed a tear
During these times when you’re seemingly about to disappear
Just believe in your own voice
For me as an adult, there are sleepless nights when I’m hurt
But I’m living the bittersweet present

There’s meaning to everything in life
So build your dreams without fear
Keep on believing

Seems like I’m about to be defeated and cry
For someone who’s seemingly about to disappear
Whose words should I believe in?

Please don’t be defeated and please don’t shed a tear
During these times when you’re seemingly about to disappear
Just believe in your own voice

No matter era we’re in
There’s no running away from sorrow
So show your smile, and go on living the present
Go on living the present

Dear you,
Who’s reading this letter
I wish you happiness

***********************************************

Romaji Lyrics

 TEGAMI

Haikei kono tegami yondeiru anata wa
Doko de nani wo shiteiru no darou

Juugo no boku ni wa dare ni mo hanasenai
Nayami no kanae ga aru no desu

Mirai no jibun ni atete kaku tegami nara
Kitto sunao ni uchiake rareru darou

Ima makesou de nakisou de
Kieteshimaisou na boku wa
Dare no kotoba wo
Shinji arukeba ii no?
Hitotsu shika nai kono mune ga nando mo barabara ni warete
Kurushii naka de ima wo ikiteiru
Ima wo ikiteiru

Haikei arigatou juugo no anata ni
Tsutaetai koto ga aru no desu
Jibun to wa nani de doko e mukau beki ka
Toitsu dzukereeba mietekuru

Areta seishun no umi wa kibishii keredo
Asu no kishibe e to yume no fune yo susume

Ima makenai de nakanai de
Kieteshimaisou na toki wa
Jibun no koe wo shinjiaru keba ii no?
Otona no boku mo kizutsuite
Nemurenai yoru wa aru kedo
Nigakute amai ima ikiteiru

Jinsei no subete ni imi ga aru kara
Osorezu ni anata no yume wo sodatete
La la la, la la la
Keep on believing
La la la, la la la,
Keep on believing, keep on believing, keep on believing

Makesou de nakisou de
Kieteshimaisou boku wa
Dare no kotoba wo shinji arukeba ii no?
Aa Makenaii de nakanai de
Kieteshimaisou na toki wa
Jibun no koe wo shinjiarukeba ii no
Itsu no jidai mo kanashimi mo
Sakete wa torenai keredo
Egao wo misete ima wo ikite yukou
Ima wo ikite yukou

Haikei kono tegami yondeiru anata ga
Shiawase na koto wo negaimasu

..............