Ur.kunft button dance

ur.kunft : a show

Butoh dance by mixed ability company, Theater Thikwa

“We wanted to communicate a new future.”

Theater Thikwa are perhaps best known for spoken word and performance theatre. Often building shows through variations around a theme – their recent productions, Sieben and Schweigen Impossible explored the number seven and aspects of silence respectively.

ur.kunft does something similar – exploring the nature of time and creation, the continuing cycle of new beginnings – the title blending the German terms for ‘origin’ and ‘future’. And this, is a dance piece. Created with guest artist, Japanese Butoh dancer and choreographer, Yuko Kaseki, it premiered in Berlin about a year ago, and when I see it, is just back from the KIADA International Festival in Seoul.

Kaseki has talked of the new perspectives and freedom she finds in working with the Thikwa actors and with regard to ur.kunft, is quoted as saying, “we wanted to communicate a new future.” Theater Thikwa describe the piece as “a unique creation myth.”

With this in mind and a serendipitous thunderstorm crashing outside, we sit in Thikwa’s F40 theatre and start to see what they mean. Pleated images of sea and trees flicker across the set, waves of leaves and stone and water. Gradually, grey and black figures emerge from the edges. Primordial, elemental, they come together in the centre – particles, sensations, the basic stuff of life. The music hypnotises us, the slow movement of the dancers lulls us. And then, a crack. A single figure, the creator, strikes the air above the dancers, the sky tears open and a new cycle of life is born. The dancers break apart. A man with a microphone circles the stage, MC-ing the beginning of the world, maybe the universe? As he walks, the cast become entangled in his lead, held together but also caught and as the tangle builds, the stage becomes a jumping screaming fury as they burst free, the music a soaring assault.

ur.kunft Butoh dance
Photo © David Baltzer

More scenes, new cycles, are collaged in – the creator plants eggs in a pool of light. Important eggs. Dancers move to protect them but, in the end, they will be stamped to a powder by the creator. And meanwhile, other eggs are being surreptitiously nibbled at the back! Is this breakfast? Our eyes dart around the stage, following the movement, the images conjured before us, transfixed. Our ears are alive. The music, from Greek musician, Antonis Anissegos, is fantastic – broken and remade, the creator sings a long wordless song, a drone, with a stream of percussion fragments, of cries, of drumming, strange popping sounds. Masks appear – strange formless faces – made in the Thikwa workshop. We’re going back in time – where is this future?

The company was led by two visiting dancers, moving silently around the stage. The ‘creator’ played by a Thikwa actor was a powerful presence – tall and dominant, his song extraordinary. And the other actors presented their own interpretations of the theme through their movements, offering vulnerability to counter the practised fluency of the guest dancers. The whole, opening up new spaces in our minds and perhaps … a new future.

Photo credits
Homepage   :  Theater Thikwa publicity material
Main photo  :  Production picture. Photo © David Baltzer
(Photos courtesy of Theater Thikwa)

10 April 2018:
Theater Thikwa, Berlin

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